A RETAILER fined for opening during the national lockdown is refusing to shut up shop.

Chris Kettle, managing director of Happy Buddha, which has branches in Poole and Bournemouth, told the Echo he has now been fined twice by BCP Council– £1,000 each time.

But he insists the council is unfairly attacking his business and says he won't be paying up without a fight.

"We are not going to pay these fines," said Chris. "We will be having our day in court, it is my lawful right to appeal in court.

"These fines are unlawful. The council is trying to enforce something that isn't law, they don't understand the law themselves."

The Happy Buddha stores, which sell Buddha-related items, are situated at Poole High Street and Bournemouth's Richmond Gardens Shopping Centre. Both remain open despite being told to close.

Chris said: "They (BCP Council) served us no notice to close, unlike we had in the first lockdown.

"We view this as an attack on us by the council."

Fixed penalty notices, for breaching lockdown regulations, have been issued by BCP Council for both branches.

Chris said: "We sell essential items, we sell throws to keep old ladies warm in the winter.

"We sell essential oils such as lavender to help people to sleep through this time of anxiety.

"We sell tea and incense for meditation, which has been used for thousands of years in religious practice.

"We are essential retail and we will fight this attack."

The Poole branch of Happy Buddha was visited by council officials as part of a weekend crackdown to ensure retailers are adhering to the lockdown regulations.

More than 100 businesses across the conurbation were visited by environmental health and trading standards officers, supported by recently-appointed Covid marshals, during the operation.

It followed a number of complaints, the council said, from members of the public about businesses failing to stick to lockdown rules.

Councillor May Haines, BCP Council portfolio holder for community safety, said: “We have found that there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding among businesses and the public about what is permitted and what is prohibited during lockdown and so it’s important our officers are out and about working closely with businesses offering advice and guidance.

"On the whole, this support has been well received and business owners have taken on board the advice given. It is only when a business refuses to follow the restrictions, despite extensive engagement, that we have to consider taking enforcement action.

“With regards to the Happy Buddha, officers had provided significant guidance and advice to the business owner over the weekend, including the possibly of a penalty notice.

“The business was further advised they could continue operating on a pre-order and collect service. Unfortunately, the advice was not followed, and a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) was served for their premises in Poole.

“We can also confirm that a second FPN has now been issued for their other premises in Bournemouth, which has also remained open despite repeated advice.

“The government does not allow for businesses to define whether they think they are essential or non-essential, rather they have provided a list of businesses which are permitted to remain open and those that are required to close.’’