To the Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames we ask that outdoor businesses such as Sun Inn Flowers be allowed to operate business as usual, while following necessary health and safety regulations, as they are allowed to in other boroughs of London such as Hammersmith & Fulham and Chelsea & Westminster. Small local community businesses such as Sun Inn Flowers in Barnes are struggling to survive with a plague of challenges from extended lockdown closures, rising post-Brexit prices and stock availability, reduced footfall on the high street and aggressive competition from big corporations. The Sun Inn Flower business has been right at the heart of the SW13 community on Barnes Pond for 32 years and against the odds is still here. Since opening the big corporations have managed to set up in the community selling cheap flowers - in the case of M&S they were granted permission provided they did not set up a big flower display and did not affect local businesses - within months we lost our old local butcher and needless to say they have aggressively pursued flower sales and are now capitalising on the lock down with an extended flower display. The outdoor food market has been open every Saturday, legally, to crowds of people who are not just local but often making special trips to Barnes and without concern about social distancing properly on our high street busy with walkers. After weeks of deliberating Jane and Elizabeth, the owners of Sun Inn Flowers, decided it was important to bring back fresh flowers and a garden centre offering (plants, soil and pots) to the community and on Thursday started a four day/week opening (normally 7 days per week all year except Christmas). Countless locals have been making repeated calls to them to finally open as we approach Valentines Day. Fresh cut flowers are lovingly prepared and displayed, served with a warm welcome. The business is a hub that represents the spirit of community. This pandemic has eroded the wellbeing of our loved ones and The Sun Inn Flowers is key to lifting the spirits of not only the wonderful locals who adore and support it, but to the passers by who revel in the colour and spirit of Jane and Liz’s offering. For some elderly this is their one outing of the day or even week when they get to come and choose some flowers and connect with people face to face, as they have through the 32 years of trading. Signs are in place asking customers to form a safe queue with two meter spacing and a separate area is designated for payment. The entire stall is cordoned off to protect the staff and the customers from risk of transmission while staff wear masks inside the working area and a sanitiser stand is available for the customers to use. A safe working practice is followed and mostly outdoors. On Saturday the business was instructed to shut down after three days on the second visit of a COVID officer. Sun Inn Flowers can only operate on a click-and-collect basis and may only take orders by website payment. Any orders taken over the phone or by email will see the business face a £2000 fine. The flower trade has always been gruelling with 2am market runs and long hours outdoors preparing the flowers, arranging them, managing a work force and all the while keeping a smile for the beautiful community. This business cannot operate effectively under these conditions - the customers need to see the flowers. With the entire trade struggling with imports Jane and Elizabeth can no longer guarantee what flowers they can buy from the struggling New Covent Garden Market where they cannot even see the flowers they are buying at present due to pandemic trading rules. You cannot simply order flowers online and give the customer what they hope to buy, this is just not feasible for such a freestyle business model. Scientific studies struggle to find conclusive data and yet the conclusions to date have been that well under 10% of COVID-19 transmission happens outdoors and you are 18.7% less likely to catch it outdoors. Richmond has some of the lowest levels of transmission in London and even the country as a whole and yet it is the one borough that is stopping businesses such as Sun Inn Flowers from trading outdoors as normal. Hammersmith & Fulham and Chelsea & Westminster Boroughs are two with far higher rates of transmission of COVID-19 and yet they are sensibly allowing outdoor traders such as flowers stalls to be open without insisting on click and collect website payment. As of now Sun Inn Flowers once again closed as the owners struggle in the face of strident bureaucracy. One of the three busiest commercial days is ahead, Valentines Day, and we need Sun Inn Flowers to be given the opportunity to strengthen their war chest - Christmas, Valentines Day and Mothers Day are crucial to their ability to survive and trade all year. Barnes needs its fresh flower trade to lift the spirits of the community. We need to make sure it is accessible and without the prejudice of online only sales so that elderly are able to buy plants and flowers easily in person. We need Sun Inn Flowers to be free to trade immediately so that they can thrive for the next 32 years serving the community they love. We call on you to come together in the wider community of Richmond-upon-Thames, just as the community of Barnes now is, to help the leaders of our council to understand that we want outdoor traders such as Sun Inn Flowers to continue to trade safely, as they have been until laws forced them to close, and help us to lift our spirits in these dreadfully tough weeks. Thank you on behalf of Elizabeth and Jane for the immense support and love that has come their way since they were forced to close. We can do this!
Started by: Edward Fisher
This petition runs from 11/02/2021 to 11/05/2021.
78 people have signed this petition.