Prestatyn shopkeeper fined for smoking in own shop porch

Martin Bardsley measures his shop porch, where he was fined £50 for smoking a cigarette Credit: Geoff Abbott

A Prestatyn shopkeeper handed a fixed penalty notice for smoking on the doorstep of his own store says he believes public health officers were "bang out of order" to fine him.

Martin Bardsley, who runs a DIY and household shop on the town's high street, was given a £50 fixed penalty notice under Section 6/7 of the Health Act 2006.

Mr Bardsley said after he had finished smoking his cigarette on February 1st, two people followed him as he walked back into his shop.

"As I got to my counter, they said they were environmental health officers and were giving me an on-the-spot fine for smoking in an enclosed area," said Mr Bardsley who has owned the shop for seven years.

"So I said how can it be an enclosed area? It's an open porch that's twelve foot high.

"[The officer] said it has three sides and is classed as a public enclosed area.

"I was shocked to be honest and I told him we had always smoked there since we had opened.

"We've never smoked in the shop and even some customers will stand in the porch and look in the shop window while they are smoking so they could be breaking the law as well."

When Mr Bardsley read the Act he discovered an area has to be "enclosed or substantially enclosed" for it to be designated a smoke-free zone.

The Act also recommends officers issue "verbal advice and/or written warning" on their first visit and fixed penalty notice should only be issued on a the "following visit".

Mr Bardsley says he believes his 12-feet high porch is "substantially open" and that officers from Denbighshire County Council were wrong to issue the fine.

"The porch opening is more than twelve feet high by seven-and-half feet wide, so it's unfair to class it as an enclosed area," he said.

"If they are going to fine people they should know what they are talking about."

A spokesperson for Denbighshire County Council said: "In the interests of public health, councils have been tasked by the Welsh Government and more precisely, the Health Act 2006, section 6/7, with the duty to prohibit smoking in enclosed places to which the public have access. Third parties should not be subjected to secondary smoke and this is obviously in the public interest.

"Officers witnessed Mr Jones smoking in the premises in question and issued him with a fixed penalty notice. He now has the choice of paying the fine associated with the FPN or not paying it and thereby presenting his case to the Magistrates Court, where the Magistrates will be able to hear his defence and the Council's reasons for serving the FPN and conclude who is in the right given all the material facts."