Ex-teacher wins fight with Shirehampton store on 'lads' mags'
A RETIRED teacher has won an 18-month battle to get his local Co-op store to move publications with sexualised images on their front pages to the top shelf.
The Daily Sport and similar publications will now be moved from floor-level shelves on news stands and will have a block across the front cover showing nothing but the title.
The change will not only happen in 73-year-old Gil Osman's local Shirehampton store but also in stores in Henbury, Henleaze and Westbury-on-Trym.
Mr Osman, who lives in Walton Road, Shirehampton, first complained about the issue in July 2011.
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After going into the Co-op store in High Street he saw that the Daily Sport, complete with a front page image of a scantily-clad woman holding up her skirt to reveal a bare backside, was on a floor-level shelf of the news stand.
The image was clearly visible to children, and he felt this was wrong.
The grandfather said: "I considered this to be highly inappropriate and complained to the acting manager. He said he could do nothing about it as policy was determined by head office.
"To me the Daily Sport is not a newspaper – it is more of a men's magazine and belongs on the same shelf as those publications – out of sight of young eyes."
After nothing was done Mr Osman then contacted The Co-operative's managing director.
He twice received no reply, and even after his local MP Charlotte Leslie wrote to the organisation, he says the issue was not properly addressed.
But it was when Mr Osman transferred a bank account from First Direct to the Co-operative Bank, due to its ethical credentials, that he was given free membership.
He attended a members' meeting in Keynsham and again tried to get the issue addressed.
When it was not, he wrote to Andrew North, the regional secretary of The Co-operative Membership for the south and west region.
He was stunned when he recently received a letter from Mr North saying he had spoken to the operations manager for Mr Gil's nearest stores, and had instigated a review of where publications that have inappropriate imagery on them are located.
As well as publications such as the Daily Sport being relocated to the top right or left corner of the magazine displays, they will also have a "block" across the front cover showing nothing apart from the title.
Mr North said these changes will happen in stores Mr Osman mentioned in his letters, which includes Shirehampton, Henbury, Henleaze and Westbury-on-Trym.
He also promises to send a copy of Mr Osman's letter to the regional stores director, who looks after all of the food stores in the region, so that he can ensure his stores are adhering to the voluntary code of practice.
And now Mr Osman hopes the changes will be rolled out across the rest of Bristol, and further afield.
He told The Post: "I am very pleased with the changes that have been made.
"It took a long time but I finally worked out the best way to complain!
"As a former teacher and a grandad I couldn't believe these images were being positioned in the eye-lines of children.
"I believe that children these days are becoming sexualised too early and think this didn't help matters.
"I'm glad something has been done and hope this is rolled out across Bristol and in other places."
A Co-operative spokesman said: "Our aim is to provide a range of newspapers and magazines for a broad and varied audience in the numerous communities in which we trade.
"We endeavour to stock titles that have general public acceptability and which do not include content unsuitable for the age range most likely to read the title.
"Following Mr Osman's correspondence on this issue, we have agreed to move 'lads mags' to the top of the magazine shelf and to cover the imagery with a piece of cardboard in these stores.
"In the case of the Sport newspapers, our policy is that they are turned over so the back page is displayed."