A chip shop boss has insisted he’s not racist after putting up a banner boasting that the business now had ‘English owners’.
Paul Bradbury insists customers ‘want to know they are going to be served by somebody English’–even though the shop had previously been run by English people of east Asian descent and of Greek descent.
He and his wife Rachel took over the Chippy On The Green, in Hapton Road, Padiham, Lancashire less than a fortnight ago.
But the couple have already provoked a furious row with a banner across the front of the shop that reads: ‘Under new management with English owners’.
Burnley’s Lib Dem MP Gordon Birtwistle and the mayor of Padiham have both issued demands for it to be removed.
But defiant Mr Bradbury has no plans to take it down.
He said: ‘I’m not racist. Anyone who thinks I’m a bigot is narrow-minded.
‘People want to know they are going to be served by somebody English. People have said to us that they are glad somebody English is serving them and that the sign made them want to come in.
‘They’ve never had anyone in the shop before. We are advertising that we are English.
‘You wouldn’t want your fish and chips served to you by someone Turkish, or from wherever, because it wouldn’t be as good a recipe as it would be from somebody English.
‘It doesn’t matter what colour or race you are, we’ll serve you. We welcome everyone here. I won’t be taking the sign down.
‘We don’t want to upset anyone and we aren’t racist. We wouldn’t be serving foreign food if we were racist.’
The shop, which sells traditional English takeaways alongside Chinese food, kebabs and pizza, re-opened on Tuesday.
Gordon Birtwistle MP said: ‘I would rather it didn’t say what it did. It would be better if it said “serving good quality food to the community”. If it is causing consternation to people, it should either be taken down or changed.’
Mayor of Padiham, Coun Vincent Pridden said: ‘I don’t think it’s a very positive message to be putting out in the community. If it’s causing upset, the council should look into it.’
Gary Curson, a teacher at West Craven High School in Barnoldswick who lives near the shop, said he would not set foot in the takeaway again.
He said racism was ‘alive and well in Padiham’.
He said: ‘We’ve used that chip shop when it was run by other people, who were well liked and respected in the community. I wouldn’t go in there now and neither would many of the people I know.
‘Half a dozen local people I’ve spoken to since yesterday have said they are disgusted by what it says.
‘In this day and age, it shouldn’t matter who you are being served by.
‘It’s not a positive message to put out to children which go to local schools that you should prefer to go into a shop run by one sort of people. It’s not good for them or for the community.
‘Burnley is supposed to be an enterprising, multi-cultural place. Asian people run the shop just down the road. This gives a very bad impression of the area and could well upset people.’
Local councillor Joanne Greenwood said: ‘It’s not helpful at all and it could well upset people and I can see why. I certainly don’t think it’s necessary to say that.’
Lancashire Police say they have not yet received any complaints about the banner.