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The Tea at the Bridge cafe in the popular antiques town only has planning permission to operate as a tearoom.

Michael Clarke, a local district councillor, who is the younger brother of veteran politician and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, first received a complaint over the sale of bric-a-brac alongside food (an increasingly common practice in tearooms and cafes across the country) in April 2008. He was ordered to ensure the building was used only as tearooms from then on but has flouted the ban.

Mr Clarke said: "We have always sold fine china in the tearooms – it's nothing new. It's what a lot of businesses do. But the letter of the law says at the time of applying for permission we should have applied for mixed-use. This is an illustration of the red tape and bureaucracy affecting the viability of businesses in market towns."

Council spokesman James Gilbert said: "We have investigated this breach and asked that Mr Clarke either stops trading goods or submits a planning application to use the shop for this purpose. As yet, no planning application has been received. If he refuses we can take enforcement action. Although we take planning breaches very seriously, we try to keep the power used in balance with the issue."

Mr Clarke faces a breach of condition notice carrying a maximum fine of £1000.