Eastbourne Hand Car Wash defends staying open in lockdown

THE owner of a car wash business who was fined for staying open in lockdown has defended his decision to defy Covid-19 rules.

Eastbourne Hand Car Wash in Seaside Road, Eastbourne, was found to still be operating on Thursday and was forced to shut by police.

Co-owner of the business, Ben Saber, filmed his encounter with officers, who issued him with a £1,000 fine.

In the video, Mr Saber can be heard asking police “on what grounds car washes are not essential” and refused to give his name or role at the business.

The Argus: Co-owner Ben Saber, right, who runs Eastbourne Hand Car Wash with co-owner Kleant HoxhaCo-owner Ben Saber, right, who runs Eastbourne Hand Car Wash with co-owner Kleant Hoxha

He said: “Asda has a car wash and this is a car wash. Asda’s is open. What is the difference between us being open and Asda?”

In response, one of the police officers said: “That is not for me to decide. You will need to ask the Prime Minister.”

Speaking after the fine was issued, Mr Saber said: “We actually stayed open and we had customers there when police came.

“It was our busiest day and we only opened a couple of weeks ago. It just doesn’t seem very fair.

“Asda has their car wash open and they’re really busy as no-one else is allowed to open.

“I have a small business and we’ve still got bills and rent to pay.”

Mr Saber added that as his business sanitises vehicles inside and out, including taxis, NHS workers’ cars and construction vans, he believes it should be classed as essential.

He said: “There’s a rule where if the car wash is attached to a petrol station then it can open, but that doesn’t really make it essential.

The Argus: Eastbourne Hand Car Wash in Seaside Road, EastbourneEastbourne Hand Car Wash in Seaside Road, Eastbourne

“The police officer told me to take it up with the Prime Minister but that’s impossible – how can I speak to him?

“Car washes are essential as vehicles including taxis need to be cleaned. None of it makes sense really.

“You can go to Home Bargains and McDonald’s but you can’t get your car washed.”

Under the government’s latest rules for the lockdown until December 2, only businesses classed as essential can remain open in England.

These include petrol stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.

Earlier this month, the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) and Car Wash Association (CWA) lobbied the government to allow car washes to be included as essential businesses, and permission was granted for those at petrol stations to operate.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA and CWA said: “While we are pleased with this outcome, the CWA will continue with its robust lobbying as Automated Car Washes (ACW) that are not connected to a petrol station have not yet been granted an exemption to remain open. We are working to ensure that these ACW are not discriminated against in this, and any potential further, lockdown”.

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