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Scots council branded “draconian” after telling schoolboy he must register fundraising honesty box as business and undertake training to stay open

A SCOTS council has been branded “draconian” after telling a schoolboy he must register his honesty box as a business and undertake training to stay open.

Robert Forbes found a note inside his honesty box in Stromness, Orkney, two weeks ago from council officials telling him he was running an unregistered food business.

The 16-year-old Stromness Academy pupil started filling a container for the public with fresh baked goods last year to raise money for food banks and sea rescue teams.

Robert handing his check to RNLI
Robert has previously raised over £2,000 for local charities.

Robert has so far managed to raise around £2,000 from his baking which has been an instant hit among locals.

However, he was shocked after receiving a letter from Orkney Islands Council saying he would have to register DEElicious as a business to keep it running.

Officials also informed the young Scot that he will have to undertake training in food safety management to carry on raising money from his honesty box.

Islanders have since slammed the “heavy handed” approach and urged the council to support his fundraising business and not crush Robert’s spirits.

Robert’s mum, Susan Sturrock, announced her son’s closure to locals on social media after the family received the council’s letter.

She said: “Unfortunately, with immediate effect, Robert’s Honesty Box will have to close. He found this envelope left in the box and enclosed letters from OIC.

“It has been brought to their attention that he is running an unregistered food business and there’s a list of laws, legislations and training that he must undertake.

“Food safety management, British standard disinfectants, labelling, packaging, separate hand washing facilities and separate storage and refrigeration must all be put in place.

“So, as he’s a 16-year-old lad, just about to move into fifth year at school, it’s fair to say his fundraising will be on hold for a while.

“I simply don’t have the finances or time to make our kitchen business standard.

The post has collected over 300 angry and sad reaction emojis and hundreds of comments from social media users who were outraged by the decision.

Tracey Tyer said: “Such a heavy handed approach which ultimately wasn’t necessary and crushes the spirit of one honest youngster trying to bring about some good in fundraising for vital services.

“Here’s an idea OIC, how about supporting them rather than the draconian measure you’ve taken?”

Maureen Taylor said: “That’s ridiculous, surely it’s up to us the customers whether we want to buy from him without all this ridiculous paperwork.

“At this rate they will be demanding we have it to cook at home for our families and friends.”

Dunrena Mcbeth said: “It’s no different from buying home bakes at a car boot sale or charity shops, what a shame.”

Eric Rendall said: “What a piece of p**h. If you can feed your own safely why do you need certificates to feed your visitors?”

And Ellis Tait said: “I also run an honesty box, but I have decided to close it too as I don’t see how it would be fair for some to be able to continue and others not.

“I do have my hygiene certificates and a premises able to supply bakes from, however it’s not registered as a separate business and I won’t be bothering for the sake of selling a few cakes.”

Orkney Islands Council has since apologised to Robert and his family but has said he will have to meet the requirements if he wants to continue with DEElicious.

A spokeswoman said: “Orkney Islands Council will be seeking public views on its future approach to the registration of food producers in the county.

OIC letter to Robert about his honesty box
Robert found the documents inside his honesty box two weeks ago.

“The authority has faced criticism over the way it handled its contact with an honesty box owner in Stromness.

“The authority has apologised to the family on this occasion for the way in which the situation was handled – which nevertheless, was consistent with normal practice.”

Hayley Green, the council’s Corporate Director for Neighbourhood Services, added: “Although we had good intentions in contacting the owners of the honesty box about registering with us, the way in which we handled that contact did not hit the mark – and we are sorry for that.

“I have personally apologised to the family over the weekend and I’m meeting with them this week to discuss the next steps.

“The Environmental Health team has statutory responsibilities regarding food safety, hygiene and standards.

“One of these key responsibilities is ensuring – through a registration and inspection process – that the food stuffs being produced for the public in Orkney are being done so in a safe and responsible manner.

“This is the case whether food is being produced in a home or on commercial premises or whether the food is being sold for profit or for ongoing charity purposes.

“Many folk who are producing goods for an honesty box have already registered with us and have gone through the inspection process with our team – and have given us very positive feedback on that process.

” We’ll be consulting on our enforcement policies in the coming months, which include a section on the processes we use to make initial contact with businesses or other food producers. This will provide those with an interest in how we do this an opportunity to make their views known.”

ENDS

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