A 5-year-old London girl was fined approximately $195 (£150) for selling lemonade at a homemade lemonade stand without proper permits, according to The Telegraph.
The child was selling lemonade on a street near her home in eastern London when local law enforcement "stormed up to her little table" and read the girl and her father, Andre Spicer, the laundry list of the town's legal codes before issuing the fine.
“But don’t worry," the officer said. "It is only £90 if it’s paid quickly.”
Spicer told The Telegraph that his daughter was naturally upset because of the legal interference, and burst into tears as a result. The little girl asked her father, "Have I done something bad?"
After Spicer assured his daughter that they'd pay the fine and appropriate the proper permits going forward, they would open another lemonade stand — this time "legally."
The 5-year-old, however, refused, and cited reasons that it was "too scary" to do it again.
Spicer, in a column for The Telegraph, wrote:
"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.
'Excuse me,' one officer said as he switched on a portable camera attached to his vest. He then read a lengthy legal statement – the gist of which was that because my daughter didn't have a trading permit, she would be fined £150. 'But don’t worry, it is only £90 if it’s paid quickly,' the officer added."
Spicer admitted that after they packed up their wares, his daughter cried the whole way home.
According to British network ITV, the township cancelled the fine after it was brought to the attention of the media, and publicly apologized to the little girl and her family.
“We are very sorry that this has happened,” a spokesman for the town told ITV News. “We expect our enforcement officers to show common sense, and to use their powers sensibly. This clearly did not happen. The fine will be canceled immediately and we have contacted Professor Spicer and his daughter to apologize.”
Spicer told ITV that children are under far too much pressure these days and that he believes a greater issue is that children are discouraged from having a "go at things, whether it's starting a small business or putting on a play, or whatever they want to do."
In his write-up for The Telegraph, Spicer warned of the dangers of not allowing children to express their entrepreneurship and individuality, issuing a warning that childhood is changing at large, and for the worse.
"The world my children are growing up in is radically different. Today, kids are watched by parents around the clock. Most are not allowed beyond the front gate of their house. Everything children do today is carefully regulated by officials, inspectors and their own parents. There are good intentions behind all this obsessive monitoring. But these good intentions can quickly sour.
At the same time as we supervise the joy out of childhood, many of the things which actually help our children thrive are disappearing. Councils have closed youth clubs and young people’s services. Teachers spend more time ticking bureaucratic boxes than teaching kids. Parents are more interested in monitoring their social media feed than playing with their kids. Meanwhile, the number of children being prescribed anti-depressants has gone up 50pc in five years.
Now, after Lemonadegate, as I contemplate the long school holidays which lay ahead, I’m even more confused about how to entertain our children. Setting up a lemonade stand is obviously far too risky. Perhaps I should just rely on that good old fashioned parenting technique – handing my daughter an iPad so she can spend hours watching a creepy guy opening up toys he has just bought."