A BOOKSELLER accused of "bringing a town into disrepute" has defended his right to charge customers for entering his shop.

Steve Bloom, who lives near Horton in Ribblesdale, asks for 50p from potential customers visiting his bookshop Bloomindales in Hawes Market House.

Hawes Parish Council has received more than 20 complaints and want him to change his attitude to customers – or to leave the town, with the chairman accusing him of being "a discredit to the good reputation of the town".

But Mr Bloom, who has been trading from the Market House for 15 years and elsewhere for ten, said he would continue with his regime because many customers were happy to pay.

"I explain about the 50p and when they come to leave with a book I say keep the 50p. Many people then say 'no keep it or give it to charity.' So it goes to Compassion in World Farming.

"Those people who get upset about the 50p feel challenged. This is a test. I want people who come into to shop to be interested and appreciative of books. This is not a bus stop or a room for browsers.

"Now that this has got out to the press, all and sundry know how it works, so it won't be the same. But I'll continue to ask for it - I'm not bowing to pressure.

Chairman of Hawes Parish Council Cllr John Blackie said when the matter came to the public eye earlier this week: "The bookseller is a discredit to the good reputation of the town; he is letting the Market House trustees down time and again.

“I have received more than 20 letters of complaint in the last four years about the abusive behaviour of Mr Bloom – by letter, email and telephone."

Cllr Blackie said that the various complaints had been discussed at parish council meetings and had been passed to chairman of the Hawes Market House trustees, Graham DiDuca, but that nothing had been done to end the rudeness to customers.

Mr DiDuca said Mr Bloom was not doing anything to breach his contact with the Market House so there was no reason to evict him. There were plans to erect a sign clearly stating the 50p entry fee, which is refundable on any purchase made.

He said: “ We have sought legal advice and have been told his behaviour does not constitute a public nuisance.”