Sally sets the record straight

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Sally Pattinson with a draft of her book Brace Yourselves Boys

Sally Pattinson’s book Brace Yourselves Boys is an account of her four-year battle with East Sussex County Council (ESCC), which started when she put up a sign to promote her business.

“All I wanted to do was advertise the café,” says Pattinson, who returned to the UK penniless from France in September 2001 and bought the Camber Cafe on Lydd Road in April 2007. The cafe had been running since 1984 and had used an “A” board to advertise its existence. There was a BT pole nearby and it seemed a sensible idea to put a sign on the pole. Pattinson contacted BT who initially refused permission but when she spoke to an engineer he said it would be OK, so up went the sign. And then it came down again, courtesy of ESCC.

Battle having commenced, Pattinson replaced the sign and told ESCC that if it was removed, she’d put up another two. And so it went on week after week, month after month, with signs for the cafe eventually running from Udimore to Lydd. At one point an ESCC employee told a judge there were “nine miles of signage” although that seems to be untrue.

The tale involves a council employee who Pattinson describes as “unscrupulous”, five court cases, two injunction orders, an internal council enquiry and finally an external one, as well as a lot of expense on both sides. Characters in the story include “the Tyrannical Clown”, who made the “nine miles of signage” claim, “Donkey Conk”, “Judgement Jones” and “Defrogatory”, not forgetting “Tall Paul”, a 20-foot tall, pink advertising inflatable.

Despite all the worry and stress, Pattinson managed to keep the café going, the customers satisfied and the council at bay. There was a final resolution but I’ve been asked by the author not to disclose how the story ended – for that you’ll have to read her book Brace Yourselves Boys, which is now available from Amazon.

Photo: Tony McLaughlin