Marks & Spencer security tell St Albans Poppy Appeal volunteers: 'You can't stay here'
Poppy-sellers from the Royal British Legion (RBL), who have been selling poppies to shoppers throughout Remembrance week, have been asked to move along by an over-zealous Marks & Spencer security guard.
Councillor Robert Donald said he was “stunned” on Saturday (7), when he was volunteering for the RBL outside the Marks & Spencer store on St Peter’s Street, St Albans, and a guard told him that he would have to move.
He said: “He [the security guard] came out with his mobile to his ear and said that I needed to move along. I told him that I’d been selling poppies here for more than 30 years.
“And I heard him say to whoever he was on the phone to that I’d been selling poppies here for 30 years but then he just told us that it didn’t matter and I’d need to move.”
Cllr Donald pleaded with the guard, who apparently insisted that Marks & Spencer had “had problems with poppy-sellers in the past”.
Cllr Donald added: “It was quite amazing; I couldn’t believe it. I did move, but thought, ‘this is just ridiculous’.
“I was worried that if this has been happening all week, then it really is serious for the Legion. And Marks & Spencer are supposed to be supporting all this.”
Don Dell, chairman of the RBL St Albans, said: “We got kicked off last year as well. They’ve been moving us on all week. Obviously, it’s the best spot on the street so I kept trying my luck but they just keep asking us to move.”
A spokesperson from Marks & Spencer confirmed that Cllr Donald had been asked to move because he was blocking the ‘revolving doors’ (the store does not have revolving doors) and that the security guard had offered him a complimentary drink from the cafeteria.
Cllr Donald described the accusation that he was blocking the door as “absolute rubbish” and added: “I was standing in the same spot that I’ve stood every year for 35 years. People had plenty of room to get by me. And as for the guard offering me a drink - that’s absolute fabrication.”
A follow-up statement from Marks & Spencer said: “We are proud of our association with the Royal British Legion and poppy sellers are welcome at all our stores, inside and outside.
“We haven’t asked anyone to move on, simply asked for the entrance to be kept clear and the sellers have been outside our store all week.”