THE man who reckons he’s the only person in Britain to make traditional barber shop poles is being kicked out of his tiny workshop in Wootton Wawen following a ruling by a High Court judge.
Aaron Kent’s family run Kents UK barbers, a family business going back four generations to the 1930s which has 18 barber shops around the Midlands, including one in Windsor Court, Stratford-upon-Avon.
The 48-year-old, pictured left, has handmade traditional red, white, and blue barbers poles for 27 years after taking over from his father David when he was 21. “It’s all going to have to stop,” said Aaron, who claims to be the only person in Europe who makes the poles. “It’s an absolute nightmare.”
For the past 20 years, he has rented a tiny workshop off car dealer Jason Evans at Field Farm in Pennyford Lane, Wootton Wawen.
Mr Evans recently lost a four-day hearing at the High Court in Birmingham for not complying with a Stratford District Council enforcement notice from 1986.
Among several instructions handed down by the judge was one ordering him to stop all unauthorised businesses which operate on the land by 9th May, including Henley Tyres and Aaron’s barbers pole business.
Mr Kent makes about two or three poles a week on demand and depending on the model, sells them for between £100-£500.
“It’s only me who knows how to do it,” he said, although a manufacturer in China has recently taken some of his business.
He’s sent poles all round the world, to Spain, Ireland, Denmark, even Australia, but now his business is under threat because he has to move.
“I can’t afford to rent a unit, they’re a fortune to rent,” he said.
Mr Evans has been embroiled in a battle with the district council over what he can and can’t have at his farm for many years.
Prosecuted this year for breaching the enforcement notice, he was fined £2,000 in August and after December’s High Court hearing, ordered to pay the council’s legal costs in the region of £37,000.
But it is the impact on Aaron’s business that concerns him more.
“They say they support local businesses, but they’ve stopped a business. Aaron wasn’t hurting anybody,” he said.
Stratford District Council is celebrating its court victory.
Cllr Chris Williams, (Cons, Fenny Compton), chairman of the regulatory committee, said: “This is a longstanding enforcement case and officers have worked very hard in obtaining this order for the land.
"The High Court judge agreed with the council that this was a case of a ‘flagrant and sustained breach of planning control’ and that the injunction was expedient and proportionate.”
Henley Tyres, a one-man company started in 2007 by Martin Emm is also under threat. Not only does Mr Emm have to vacate the site he has been on for three years, the building he rents from Mr Evans is due to be demolished.
However, the pair are going to apply to Stratford District Council for retrospective planning permission on the building in order to save the business.
Mr Emm said: “Hopefully I will not need to move or close the business—but it all depends on SDC and some common sense. Throughout my life I have always respected the laws and had faith in our UK system. We will wait and see.”
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