AN Atherton trader ordered to remove plants from the front of his shop has claimed that Wigan Council is being ridiculous -- and committing a crime against the community.

Jim Hewitt, of J Bargain Stores, Market Street, is calling for a review of the decision and a meeting on site with the borough engineer and the access committee for the disabled to discuss the situation.

He says the council has caused more obstructions on the street through pedestrianisation than his stands, which are set back on the widest pavement in town.

Jim, and neighbouring Motorworld, were ordered to remove their goods from view following a meeting with blind and partially sighted watchdogs, but he hit back that anyone walking straight past his premises would encounter a brick wall.

He said: "This situation is ridiculous. Pedestrianisation is killing this town. There's no market after 150 years and only one major car park which is used mostly by employees. When shoppers arrive there are no spaces.

"They're driving all the customers away. Long standing shops have been forced to close and a taxi firm has just shut up because there is no business.

"If the council make me stop selling plants it will be a crime on the community because I am the only person on the street doing so. Pensioners can't afford to go to garden centres and DIY stores.

Big part

"For two months of the year plants are a big part of my business and I have council rates to pay and a family to keep.

"The street is littered with dozens of black and gold bins, posts, signs, and seats which cause obstructions and they ask me to remove plants which stand out about 2ft from wall. It's becoming a bit silly, a nonsense.

"We need to do something, the town is being ridden roughshod over. I am obviously concerned for myself but I'm also worried about the town.

The Council should be brought to task over what they've done to this town. It is in a dire state.

A council spokesman said : "The orders came as the result of a meeting with blind and partially sighted people who were concerned about a number of points regarding the pedestrianisation scheme, one being the obstruction of pavements.

"The point traders are making about the street furniture being an obstacle is that there is a designated route for blind people to use and some of the traders' stuff is obstructing it. We could not allow that to continue because it was a genuine concern expressed by access people."