An ice cream shop has had its beloved plastic mascot cow removed in a huge blow to the owner.
John Hughes runs Artisan Gelato on Grange Road in West Kirby, Merseyside, which he opened two and a half years ago, and Tracy the plastic cow has been part of the operation since the start.
But, after a single complaint was lodged about a lack of space on the pavement, Hughes has been locked in a bitter spat with Wirral Council, who insisted that Tracy be removed.
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Hughes said: ""People just love [the cow]. We were going to have a competition to name the cow, but one of our good friends passed away during lockdown, so we named it after her.
"Tracy the cow just makes people smile, even people who don't come into the shop, they stop by and take photographs."
Hughes explained that the row began when a new pavement area was installed on the road, and new planters had been placed there.
"When we put the Tracy out on the very first day [after the installation], somebody complained there isn't enough distance between our furniture and where the council put the planters.
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"The council then came straight round and said you have to move all your outside furniture, take all of it away, and that we had to reapply for a pavement license."
Hughes did as he was told, moving the beloved cow off the pavement and reapplying for a pavement license, but to no avail.
"We reapplied and put the furniture out last Monday, but by the afternoon we'd had a message from the council saying that we needed photographic proof that there was 1.5m between the flowerbed and the furniture, and that we had to reapply again."
Tracy still isn't allowed outside as the bureaucratic nightmare rages on, and Hughes says his business has suffered catastrophic losses as without Tracy and his signs, the shop looks closed from afar.
"People in the general area are all asking where the cow is. They're not happy because it's a feature of West Kirby.
"The other thing is the work took three weeks and we weren't allowed anything, signs or Tracy, outside for three weeks, even on the hottest day of the year. So we looked closed for three weeks and we lost thousands of pounds of trade."
Hughes added: "I started off two years ago trying to make the most affordable ice cream on Merseyside. It was always about making people smile."
A spokesperson for Wirral Council said: “Wirral Council has recently refurbished this section of Grange Road, to replace a damaged and unsightly footway with an attractive paved area which is safe for pedestrians with all accessibility needs to use.
"To keep the footway in a high quality, safe condition the council is looking at different ways of keeping heavy delivery vehicles off the footway.
“A pavement cafe licence application is currently being considered for Artisan Gelato. However, a safe footway and free movement of pedestrians within the national regulations set out for pavement licences has to be of primary importance.”
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