1918 Court: Trouble spreading over sales of butter

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At the Scarborough Police Court Hannah Hepples, farmer’s wife, Allandale Farm, Hutton Buscel, was summoned for selling by retail, butter to a person who was not duly registered with her as a customer contrary to the Food Control Committee (Local Distribution) Order, 1917, on 6th June.

The magistrates on the bench were the Mayor (Mr CC Graham), Alderman V Fowler, Alderman Rowntree and Mr AJ Tugwell.

Mr Russell Richardson was for the defendant and apologised for her absence as she was attending her brother’s funeral.

The Chief Constable said defendant was in the habit of selling butter at the Scarborough Market Hall, and she was registered as a retailer of butter.

PC Tilburn saw her sell two 10oz rolls of butter to a Mrs Nelson, of Scarborough. The constable spoke to Mrs Nelson after she had left the stall, and Mrs Nelson went back to Mrs Hepples and said, “This man says I must not buy it.” Mrs Hepples took the butter back and gave Mrs Nelson 2s 10d which she had paid for the butter.

The constable ascertained that Mrs Nelson was registered for butter with Messrs Wallis and Blakely, South Street.

Mrs Hepples told the constable that she sold the butter because she had some left and did not want to take it home again.

Mr Windsor said he wished to represent to the magistrates that up to very recently this practice of selling butter had been going on extensively by nearly all the butter sellers in the market.

They had got the idea that they could sell to anybody, no matter if they were registered or not, and it was in consequence of that impression that PC Tilburn gave a general warning on the 23rd of May.

PC Tilburn gave evidence in support of the Chief Constable’s statement.

Mr Richardson, on behalf of his client, pleaded guilty to a technical offence.

The butter was returned immediately and therefore it was not a case of a person obtaining more than she was entitled to.

She did not understand she could only sell to registered customers otherwise she would not have taken 90 ounces of butter into the market more than she had registered customers for.

It seemed a deplorable position that when this particular article of food was obtainable in large quantities than any other time of the year there should be such a waste as was undoubtedly going on, through retailers being unable to sell it owing to the regulations.

There were so many orders and instructions that there was a great danger of small retailers deciding not to deal in the article for fear of getting into trouble.

Some reasonable steps should be taken for making known what the position was. He did not think any circular was ever sent out setting forth the contents of the Order.

The Magistrates’ Clerk: There was a definite warning in your client’s case.

Mr Richardson: She did not understand that she could only sell to registered customers.

The Mayor, in inflicting a penalty of 10s said it was most important that these regulations should be carried out.

The whole of the food regulations were difficult, but if people set them at defiance what chance was there for things to go smoothly?

Jane Helen Nelson, 18, Crown Terrace, the purchaser, was fined 5s.