Police slammed for threatening to fine customers at ‘essential’ milk shop
The owners of a popular family-run farm shop have been left puzzled after their local customers were told to make haste by police.
Families who were at Mynydd Mostyn – a self-serve milk vending shop – have slammed North Wales Police for their handling of the situation and clearing all customers within six minutes.
Dairy farmers Einion and Elliw Jones, who run the Flintshire-based facility, have previously applauded the police for their help during the national lockdown, but don't understand why things took a different turn this week, reports North Wales Live.
They explained that officers tend to visit the site most days and are typically supportive and helpful in regard to the business.
However they're wanting some clarity over the recent visit, which saw locals threatened with huge fines and told to leave the shop immediately.
Elliw said police visited the site most days, sometimes on multiple occasions, and officers were supportive and helpful.
But she accused last Monday’s spot-check of being excessive and based on an over-zealous interpretation of the rules.
“Afterwards we received several complaints from local customers about their treatment,” said Elliw.
“So we watched the incident back on CCTV and saw that an officer cleared the area within six minutes.
“At the time there were at least five households at the site, possibly more, and they were just stocking up on provisions.
“I later contacted the officer who explained people should be buying what they need at their weekly shop in a supermarket or nearest shop.
“He said they should get their milk from there."
Elliw added: "I feel the police should be working with us as a new business and not driving all our customers to supermarkets.
“Are they standing outside butchers shops telling people they should buy their steaks from Tesco?
“Are they standing at the entrance to Tesco checking where their customers are from?
The vending site was opened on New Year’s Day at Mynydd Mostyn, a farm on the Mostyn Hall estate at Trelogan, near Holywell.
A new shed contains three cashless vending machines offering bottled milk, milkshakes, coffee and hot chocolate.
A fourth “farm shop” machine vends local food products such as eggs, cheese and preserves. The machines are available 24 hours-a-day.
Among those turned away on Monday was a mum-of-three from Mostyn, which has its own shop that doesn’t supply the full fat milk she needs for her son.
“The police said that if I wasn’t out on my daily exercise then I would have to leave or I would receive a £60 fine,” she said.
“The most annoying thing is I did actually need the blue milk as my son is disabled.
“He is on a high-calorie diet, so green (semi-skimmed) milk just wouldn’t work for us. I told him the Mostyn shop had no blue milk but he still said I had to leave.
“I was very angry at the situation but I left because I didn’t want the fine.”
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In a statement, North Wales Police confirmed milk is an “essential item”.
A spokesperson added: “We are aware of the farm and that it is working with Flintshire County Council to ensure they are Covid compliant around queuing and social distancing.”
Elliw is keen to get clarification on what is allowed – and what isn’t – under lockdown rules.
The Welsh Government says shoppers should not travel to buy a bottle of milk if they can get the same product closer to home.
“But does this mean that if I go to Tesco, can I call at the Co-op on the way for a different product?” she said.
“And what about outlets such as ours? We are not competing with supermarkets because we are offering a very different type and quality of milk.”
Last Friday night Einion and Elliw were alerted to another incident by a Facebook message.
Mr Jones went to the vending site at 10.30pm where he saw police with a group of 20-25 young people, believed to be from the Rhyl area.
He believes fines were issued but North Wales Police was unable to confirm what action, if any, was taken.
Whatever the outcome, Elliw applauded the officers for dispersing the group.
“We wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing it by ourselves,” she said.
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