Window display sparks debate

A controversial window display featuring drugs paraphernalia sparked debate at last month’s meeting of Forfar Community Council.

Following an article in the Dispatch and Herald in which a local businessman expressed his alarm at the window display in the Frontline Surplus Army store in Castle Street, members resigned themselves to the fact that, whilst the display had caused some upset, the owner was not doing anything illegal.

Our report on April 21 revealed the shop was selling bongs associated with drug taking, and herbal remedies including salvia and poppers; the businessman claimed the goods were “a serious temptation to start at the bottom of the ladder of drugs and carry on going higher.”

However, Kenny Grant who runs the store stated everything he sold in the shop was legal - a fact backed up by Angus Council trading standards officers who have since visited the premises.

When contacted Kenny explained those buying the products had to be over 18 years old and have proof of age.

He added: “There are a lot of products such as cigarettes and alcohol but people are entitled to sell them. I do not see what I am doing is wrong.”

Speaking at last month’s meeting of the community council, Constable Ally Smith, community liaison officer for Tayside Police, said there had been some concern about the goods on display.

He said: “Trading Standards have visited the shop and offered some advice to the owner. However, there would appear not to be anything illegal in what they are doing, otherwise Trading Standards would have closed them down.

“Unfortunately, it is not an offence to sell drug paraphernalia, it is an offence to use it in conjunction with drugs so there is no offence been committed.”

A member of the public attended the meeting to voice his concerns and, whilst he accepted what was being done was legal, he felt the goods should not be exposed to youngsters.

He added that, whilst some of the bongs could be ornamental, other items for sale included digital scales which could be associated with drug taking.

However, again Constable Smith stressed it was not an offence to display or sell these items.

He continued: “Trading Standards did visit the shop and went over what they were displaying. They did offer further advice on some of the items being displayed. That is the legal stance. I suppose what we are speaking about is the morality of it being displayed, rather than the legal side.”

He suggested a representative from Trading Standards could attend a future meeting to discuss the issue more fully.

Community councillor Tom O’Brien suggested they write to the shop owner pointing out they had no problem with what he was selling, and he was perfectly within his rights to sell it, but there were concerns about the way it was displayed.

However, chairman Mrs Isobel Ross offered a word of caution adding: “I would hesitate about trying to tell somebody how to run their business.”

A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “Council officers have visited the premises and are satisfied that none of the products are banned or controlled, other than the cigarette papers for which the trader must display a notice and are age-restricted for sale only to those over 18 years.”