Mike Wells is the owner of Uptomen Accessories, a Leigh Broadway shop that specialises in menswear and gift items, and he has spoken out over the ‘horrific abuse’ that he receives on a daily basis for wearing his Southend News Network Chief Reporter badge. 

Mike told our Chief Reporter: ‘I find the site’s stories reasonably amusing, and so I jumped at the chance to get one of his badges when they were hidden all over the area recently – I rode all the way to Hullbridge to get mine.’

‘I wear it all the time when I am serving customers, but recently I have been appalled at the amount of verbal abuse that has been coming my way.’

‘For some reason, Southend News Network isn’t very popular in Leigh On Sea, and on a number of occasions people have come in and told me that I am a ‘philistine’ – I literally have no idea what that means, but I have a feeling that it is a word that you would find in The Guardian.’

‘A couple of days ago, five people in knitted hats and bow ties staged some sort of sit-in and demanded that I take the badge off. This isn’t North Korea, and my badge won’t be going anywhere.’

‘Things came to a head earlier today when the chairman of the Leigh Broadway Retailer Association came in and told me that I was showing the area some kind of ‘disrespect’ – the intimidation is shocking.’

Other shopkeepers in the area have called for Mr Wells to remove the badge for the ‘good of the town.’

Hamish Montrose-Nash of HMN Fancy Mirrors and Vegan Pastries said: ‘Mr Wells is sending out a message that Southend News Network is a legitimate source of news, but it is killing hard-working business owners like me who are tying to negotiate the choppy waters of the pre-Victorian replica mirror market.’

‘Leigh On Sea has been voted the happiest place to live in the UK recently, and it could become a hotbed of civil unrest if he carries on like this.’