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Demon Xtreme skate shop pulls out of Colchester in protest at council 'pettiness'
A SKATEBOARD and sports equipment shop is pulling out of Colchester, claiming unhelpful council officials have driven it away.
Demon Xtreme, based in the Cowdray Centre, has handed in its notice and will cease trading at its store there by the end of the year. It is due to open a new shop in Chelmsford in September.
An indoor skatepark and small shop the company also runs in another unit at the centre will remain for now.
However, owners Jason Khan and Anne Gooderham have warned they may close that, too, if they can’t reach agreement with Colchester Council.
Mr Khan managed to keep the business going after a fire at the Cowdray Centre in 2006 forced him out of his original unit in the centre’s A Block.
Since then, he and Ms Gooderham have turned the company into the UK’s biggest skate, hockey and extreme sports retailer.
However, they say the company’s growth has been in the face of a mass of petty bureaucracy brought down on them by council officials.
The council tried to force the company to remove a van, painted with the Demon Xtreme logo from its regular spot in Cowdray Avenue, claiming – wrongly, it turned out – it breached byelaws.
Officials also physically removed advertising boards from the roadside, instead of asking the company to move them.
When Mr Khan made enquiries about recycling the busineess’s waste, he was frustrated to be told it would cost him more than £500 in council charges.
He said: “We have had nothing but obstacles put in our way from the council, with its nonsensical need to adhere rigidly to old byelaws.
“When the threatening letters they sent about our van were ignored, officials busied themselves trying to find some legal precedent to remove it, when we were doing nothing wrong.
“All this has cost us money – cost the taxpayers money, too – all unnecessarily.
“We tire of trying to promote our business to Colchester people in the face of these attempts to ‘clean up’ the town.
“It will soon be exceptionally ‘clean’, if no businesses remain, because of the council’s stupidity.”
Mr Khan is the latest in a line of traders who have complained about the council’s tough stance on signs and promotional material.
The Federation of Small Businesses recently threatened to withdraw its backing from the council because of the dispute.
Nick Barlow, councillor responsible for business, said the council was in a “no win” situation.
He said: “If we allow leafleting and flyposting, the town would be covered with it and businesses would complain it looked a mess.
“If we don’t allow it, some businesses will still complain.
“We are always sorry to hear about any business leaving the town.
“If this company wants to come and speak to me about it, I will be happy to talk to it.”