London: 5-year old slapped with £150 fine - for selling lemonade

5-year-old girl opens lemonade stand outside festival, 30 minutes later officers slap her with a hefty fine for trading without a license.

Chana Roberts ,


A 5-year-old London girl on Saturday received a £150 fine for running a lemonade stall outside a festival - half an hour after the stall had opened.

According to the girl's father, Andre Spicer, a council enforcement officer accused his daughter of trading without a license, offering the family an "early bird" fine of £90 or a regular fine of £150.

"She was very upset and had to watch Brave a few times to calm down," Spicer said, adding that his daughter had decided to sell lemonade after attending her school fete.

"She wanted to sell toys or food or clothes but she eventually decided on lemonade. It was a way to entertain her on a summer’s day. We set up the stand and people started buying the lemonade. They were on the way to a concert and she brought a smile to their faces.

"She just wanted to put a smile on people's faces. She was really proud of herself.

"My daughter clung to me screaming 'Daddy, Daddy, I've done a bad thing.' She's five."

An innocent idea

In his column for the Telegraph, Spicer commented on the incident.

"Like many parents, I’m forever searching for ways to entertain my children – especially at this time of year... I was pretty pleased when I hit on the idea of helping my five-year-old daughter to run a lemonade stand at the end of our street," he wrote. "I would have thought twice if I knew what was in store for us."

"Really, it was my daughter's suggestion. On the way home from school one day, she told me that she wanted to run a stall like they had at the school fete."

"'What do you want to sell?' I asked.

"'Food and toys,' she replied.

"'Do you want to your sell your toys?' I replied, trying to hide my excitement. My daughter took a second to think.

"'Maybe just food then.'

"The next morning, she announced that she wanted to run a lemonade stand. It sounded very American, but it would entertain her and she might even learn a thing of two. I started looking up lemonade recipes.

"That weekend, after 30 minutes of laboring over the blender, we had four jugs of lemonade. My daughter drew a sign with some beautiful bright yellow lemons on it. I added the prices: 50p for a small cup; £1 for a large one.

"After cleaning off an old table, we packed up our things and walked to the end of the street. A music festival was taking place in a nearby park, so dozens of people streamed by every minute. My daughter stood proudly in front of the table. 'Who wants lemonade?' she called out. Within a minute, she had her first customer.

"The lemonade quickly disappeared and her little money tin filled up. A happy scene. And then, after about 30 minutes, four local council enforcement officers stormed up to her little table."

"Have I done a bad thing?"

Spicer said the officer turned on a portable camera and began to read a long legal statement. In short, his daughter lacked a trading license, and would therefore receive a £150 fine.

"But don’t worry, it is only £90 if it’s paid quickly," the officer said. Five minutes after the officers arrived, they walked away from the scene.

Meanwhile, the little girl burst into tears.

"Have I done a bad thing?" she asked, as Spicer packed up and the two went home.

"My daughter sobbed all the way," Spicer said.

Later, when Spicer asked if she wanted to get a permit and reopen her stall, his daughter said "No, it's too scary."

After hearing of the incident, a council spokesperson said, "We are very sorry that this has happened. We expect our enforcement officers to show common sense, and to use their powers sensibly. This clearly did not happen."

"The fine will be cancelled immediately and we have contacted Prof Spicer and his daughter to apologize."

For Spicer, though, the fine isn't the only issue.

"If there are other people who have been fined in a similar way, then this is kind of worrying. We are shooting down opportunities for kids to learn," he explained.