Council apologises for asking Northampton veg trader to take down EU '˜vote leave' boards

Northampton Borough Council has admitted it made an error in asking a market stall trader to take down his 'vote leave' EU advertising boards after a regulation mix up.

Friday, 27th May 2016, 5:55 pm
Updated Friday, 27th May 2016, 7:03 pm
Eamonn Fitzgerald - AKA Fitzy - refused to take down his vote leave advertising boards, though the borough council has admitted it should not have asked him to in the first place.

Eamonn Fitzy Fitzpatrick extended the pitch of his fruit and veg stall in Market Square in order to set up an advertising space last month.

Shortly after the euro-sceptic, who has stood an independent in the Parliamentary elections, adorned it with “vote leave” posters.

But this morning market management told him to take them down because the borough council had entered into the “purdah” period.

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Purdah prevents local government from making announcements about government initiatives which could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates in an upcoming election or referendum.

It was initially thought that as the market was managed by the council, Fitzy’s boards could infringe the purdah rule.

But the market trader refused, saying “I believe in democracy and this is my way of having my say.”

However the council has issued a statement saying the request was made in error.

A spokeswoman said: “We are very sorry that Mr Fitzpatrick was mistakenly asked to remove political signs from his stall. The borough council is covered by the legal rules regarding political campaigning during election periods, but we lease our market stalls to third parties, who aren’t covered by the same rules.

“We will be telling Mr Fitzpatrick that the signs do not on their own break the law and can stay in place. We will also explain to him why there is a need to be more careful about political signage on land or property owned by the borough council at certain times.”

Fitzy says he want to leave the EU because he believes it is “undemocratic.”

“I don’t like what’s happening to my country,” he said.

“I feel we are being bullied by Brussels.”