United Kingdom

Worcestershire gift card shop owners who refused to close during lockdown to stand trial

The owner of a card shop in Worcestershire who refused to close during lockdown is set to stand trial.

Alasdair Walker-Cox and wife Lydia, owners of Grace Cards & Books in St Andrews Square shopping centre in Droitwich, Worcestershire, received four Covid fines totalling £17,000 during this year's lockdown.

At the time, current lockdown legislation prevented non-essential shops from opening as the Government looked to limit contacts between people and stem the rise in coronavirus infections which were increasing earlier this year.

In a video shared widely on social media in February, Mrs Walker-Cox was seen challenging an official from Wychavon District Council and a police officer in the shop.

She was seen in the video arguing that they sold items offered by shops that were still allowed to trade in lockdowns, including newspapers and confectionery, and could therefore legally stay open.

Now, Mr Walker-Cox has pleaded not guilty to failing to comply with The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions ) Regulations, with a trial set for August 17 at Kidderminster Magistrates' Court. 

Alasdair and Lydia Walker-Cox have refused to shut Grace Cards and Books in Droitwich, claiming they sell essential items including newspapers, snacks and baking products 

Wychavon District Council disagreed, with leader Coun Bradley Thomas previously saying: 'It's disappointing this one particular business feels the need to flout the rules and we will work with our partners to take further action, if needed, to protect the public.' 

Mrs Walker-Cox previously told Worcestershire Live: 'We are a business of 30 years. We changed the shop around in November to become essential. 

We are liable not to have a business after this. We sell drinks, confectionary and daily newspapers. 

The couple's shop is seen above.  Mr Walker-Cox has pleaded not guilty to failing to comply with The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions ) Regulations, with a trial set for August 17 at Kidderminster Magistrates' Court

Wychavon District Council's first fine handed out to the couple in November was for £1,000 fine last week after they refused to close

'Take a trip from our shop to Smith's. There's really no reason why we shouldn't be open.

'We have got all the screens up. It's very safe to go around our shop. That conversation posted with the council lady and the police made me quite exasperated. 

'We couldn't find the line on what could be acceptable.

'If you Google WH Smith's they are registered as a stationers. They don't operate as a traditional newsagents.

Alasdair, 54, and Lydia Walker-Cox, 50, owners of Grace Cards and Books in Droitwich, Worcestershire, said they would rather go to prison than close their business

'We haven't paid the fines. We feel we have a case. We have said all along we will go to court so I guess that's where we are heading.'

Mr and Mrs Walker-Cox were first fined £1,000 last November but have now accumulated almost £20,000 in penalties for keeping their shop open. 

Last December they were issued a £1,000 fine after they refused to close during the second lockdown.

Since January 5 they have been issued with another £1,000 fine followed by one for £2,000 and another for £4,000.

In February 10 they were hit with a £10,000 fine.

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