London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Kingston upon Thames 1937

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Kingston-upon-Thames]

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Acts are not popular with all classes of traders neither can
it be said that the public as a whole use their best endeavours
not to place temptation in the way of business houses.
On the other hand, the better class of trader appears to
be most anxious to comply with the law, and often the
opinion has been expressed that compulsory closing of all
shops earlier than the present latest hour on weekdays, and
for the whole of Sundays, would be welcome. In this
connection it is manifestly unfair that a shop should be
required to close one half day per week, when itinerate
vendors from other districts may come into the town and
sell the very goods that the ratepaying shop-keeper is precluded
from selling. So far as can be seen, the only
remedy for this anomoly is a general Closing Order on
one specified half day per week, instead of as at present,
it being left to the individual trader to choose his half
day. The difficulty of the half day closing is accentuated
in the case of mixed shops, i.e. those premises which need
not be closed entirely on any half dav of the week.
Many of the occupiers of these shops would welcome
a Closing Order, but on the other hand, there are occupiers
of smaller shops who would object strongly to enforced
closing. These shop keepers are often placed in a difficult
position by customers who ask for articles which cannot
legally be sold on the half day.
Having regard to the complexity of the Shops Act
law, one can readily understand the lack of understanding
displayed by many shop keepers, and it is felt that the
time has arrived when the Shops Laws could be codified
and clarified with considerable advantage to everyone
Particular attention was paid during the year to the
heating, ventilation and lighting of shops, and many interviews
and consultations on these subjects took place.
The fact that no legal proceedings were found
necessary against any shop keeper during 1937 is indicative
of their general desire to co-operate with the Local
Authority, and having regard to the large number of shops
situate within the Borough, this helpful attitude on the
part of the business community is very gratifying.

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