Owner of Beaulieu's Norris & Sons blasts Eastleigh College for banning work experience because he stocks guns
A TRADER was left fuming after a college cancelled a work experience placement because his country store in the heart of the New Forest sells guns.
Reginald Chester-Sterne, of Beaulieu’s Norris & Sons, described the health and safety decision by Eastleigh College as a "complete kick in the teeth".
He said he had been approached in May about allowing a local girl to spend two weeks there helping out as part of her studies.
He said: “We have been having students from local schools and colleges here for work experience for the last 10 years - normally four or five a year.
“There has never been a problem. We enjoy having them here and it is a great opportunity for them.”
But following a visit by a college employee for a health assessment, Mr Chester-Sterne was “totally shocked” to be told three days before the placement that it was cancelled because the store stocks guns and ammunition.
He said: “I just couldn’t believe it. The guns and ammo are in a locked armoury which only certain staff are allowed to access.
“This girl would certainly not be going anywhere near them. The police and my insurance company are quite happy with the arrangements I have, so for the college to say what they did was, to be quite frank, a complete kick in the teeth.”
He has made an official complaint to the college and demanded the reasons for the decision.
A letter signed by vice-principal Paul Stannard said that: “Following advice and input from the college’s premises and health and safety manager and the work readiness team leader, [senior management team] colleagues made a professional judgment based on the stocking of firearms and ammunition not to pursue your expression of interest.”
But Mr Chester-Sterne told the A&T: “It was them who approached me. I believe it is a prejudice against guns that has led to this decision and prevented a girl from enjoying a great work experience.
“The girl’s mother is absolutely livid about the decision and the girl is very upset.”
A spokesperson for the college told the A&T: "The college has thanked Mr Chester-Sterne for his expression of interest and wished him well for the future.
"Any further comment would be inappropriate as the college’s published complaint procedure is currently being followed in relation to this matter."