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Sorrow to joy for cafe kids

TWO enterprising kids were left feeling glum when heavy-handed council officials stepped in to ban their plans for a weekend tea party.

BANNED: Jacob and Edward were left down in the mouth until health officials changed their minds
BANNED: Jacob and Edward were left down in the mouth until health officials changed their minds

TWO young boys were left down in the mouth when their plan to hold a weekend tea party was banned by council officials.

Edward O'Brien, eight, and next-door neighbour Jacob Davidson, six, of Manchester Road, Accrington, wanted to boost community spirit by serving tea, coffee and biscuits in their gardens.

But when they stuck a computer-generated menu on Edward's front gate it was spotted by environmental health officers who said the premises would need a food hygiene inspection first.

Edward's mum Jo-ann said: "I had to make him take the sign down and he was very upset. The boys stuck the sign on the gate with Sellotape at the beginning of the week and it certainly didn't look like a professional job. They did advertise sandwiches and toasties but really it would just have been tea, coffee and biscuits.''

She and her husband Terence, 62, a retired consultant surgeon, were shocked to find a note from the environmental health department had been pushed through their letterbox, saying a hygiene inspection was necessary before the boys could sell food.

But after the Observer stepped in, health officials changed their minds and the tea party was saved.

Food hygiene officer Mr Robert Whittle said he was obliged to investigate premises where food was offered for human consumption. But he said the party could now go ahead as it was clearly a misunderstanding.

He said: "We have to be on our toes but I can imagine the surprise on the parents' faces when they found our note. But we have decided that this isn't classed as a food business."

When told the boys' "cafe" could open, Mrs O'Brien said: "Edward and Jacob will be delighted." The boys' advert read: "Edward and Jacob's Cafe - Welcome Seating, lunchtimes only" and offered a selection of hot and cold snacks for their families and neighbours.

The two boys are known for their imaginative schemes. Edward's antics have included dressing up as a policeman and leaving post-it notes on neighbours' cars telling them they had to pay him a fine. Mrs O'Brien said the two boys enjoy role-playing and would rather pretend to be policemen or waiters than play indoors.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist