Shopkeeper threatened with action over ‘Saints’ hoarding

editorial image

A shopkeeper embroiled in a long-running row over the condition of his premises has been threatened with enforcement action over a giant wooden hoarding.

Derek Jones, who runs Relec, in Regents Square, Northampton has spent £2,000 on the hoardings on the front of his store, which he has painted in the colours of Northampton Saints.

He has put the hoardings up so he can replace the windows of the Grade II-listed property from the inside.

But Northamptonshire County Council’s highways department says the structure is not licensed, and has to be taken down.

Mr Jones has featured in the pages of the Chron several times over the years, as he has kept the shop boarded up as protection against vandals.

He had more than 70 windows smashed in the first 19 years of owning the shop.

Mr Jones said it would cost £100,000 to replace the windows in one go, or £50,000 if he does it gradually over the next two years.

He said: “I’ve started to strip out the window so I can replace it from the inside.

“If it was going to be replaced in one go, I’d have to put chain link fencing 8ft away from the shop, and put in a temporary footpath.

“It is solid as a rock, it is not going anywhere. They say they want £6 million liability insurance from me, and they’ve not even looked at the structure.

“If they want to enforce it, it would look a mess. I would have to board it up from the inside and demolish the whole thing. I’m just banging my head against the wall.”

Mr Jones, who also owns the Down Under bar, in Wellingborough Road, says he wants to eventually turn Relec into an art gallery for children.

He said: “It’s not just about bricks and mortar, it’s about heritage. That’s very important to me.”

In a letter to Mr Jones, Andy Hudson, from Northamptonshire Highways, said: “During a recent inspection of Regents Square it was noted that the unlicensed hoarding on the frontage of your property is still in situ on the highway.

“Any hoarding has to be licensed. It is my understanding you have been sent the appropriate paperwork and have never returned it, or the fee involved.”

The letter threatens enforcement action, with any costs charged to Mr Jones.