The activity was reported to the police by a local person on exercise when it was noticed that the car park was full and that shoppers were not complying with social distancing rules.
Ferndown Town councillor, Mandy Willis, said, “The Flower Factory near Millhams is open illegally, but Dorset Police don’t seem to be doing anything about it. Longham is a small village and people are coming from across the south to shop there. Local residents are extremely concerned.”
A spokesperson for Dorset Police said, “Dorset Police received a report on Saturday 18 April relating to an alleged breach of COVID-19 (coronavirus) regulations in relation to a shop in Ringwood Road, Bournemouth, continuing to trade.
“Officers attended and spoke with the proprietor. It was established that customers were principally purchasing food items and that social distancing measures were in place and were being adhered to.”
Councillor Willis said, “They never sold food previously, but have now put out bags of potatoes and some veg, clearly they think this is a way around the rules. There is no way people are going there to buy the vegetables. You can see them coming away with their arms full of plants.
“We have many small garden centres in Dorset and they are all seriously struggling to do what they can by delivery. Their stock is perishable and if they don’t find an outlet for it, they will go under. These people are ‘cleaning up’ at the expense of other centres. There are definitely no distancing rules being applied down there.”
Jess from the Flower Factory said, “We sell fruit, veg, eggs, fruit trees, veg plants as well as flowers and plants which we have done for a long time.
“We have also been offering a delivery and collection service, which has been really well-received during these difficult times, especially from our loyal customers, many of which are elderly or live far from supermarkets.
“Last weekend the car park was full (not surprisingly as our car park is quite small compared to other garden centres). But it was full with customers arriving for collections. We had an influx of people around a similar time, which we didn’t foresee, which did cause a bit of a backlog, but we managed to clear very quickly and now we are doing specific time slots for collection to avoid this happening again.
“We adhere to all the social distancing rules and encourage our customers to keep two metres apart.”
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