A FRUSTRATED shop owner has challenged Colchester Council’s zero-tolerance stance on the distribution of promotional flyers.

Carol Jones wanted to give out helium balloons and leaflets to advertise her gift store, Glyph, in Priory Walk.

She said she was shocked when council officials told her she couldn’t do it, because it would result in extra litter.

Mrs Jones, who also has a shop in Felixstowe, Suffolk, said: “There was no meeting halfway, even in this particularly difficult year for retailers.

“The council would rather see clean streets and council jobs, than flourishing shops.

“Therefore, it is OK to make retail staff redundant and have ugly empty premises littering the streets.”

Mrs Jones initially asked for permission to hand out flyers a year ago, but was turned down – and told she faced a £2,500 fine if she went ahead.

She made a second request this month, suggesting a permit system could be introduced to ensure only a few shops at a time were licensed to distribute leaflets.

But an e-mailed response from council street care and recycling manager Dave McManus said: “It is our belief the current restriction should remain in place and, although some businesses may consider this restrictive, we believe it will make our town more attractive to shoppers.

“I regret I cannot permit any distribution of free printed matter.”

Mrs Jones said: “Our premises in Colchester is suffering. We are desperate to up our footfall and need to get the shoppers to our side of town.

“A permit system would prevent a flood of littering because it would limit the number of shops that could promote themselves.”

Tim Young, Colchester councillor with responsibility for street services, said: “We can’t make an exception for one business and risk our town centre having more litter in it.”