'If they ban hooded tops, they should ban Goth black too'

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The Independent Online

While the Bluewater hoodie ban was being praised by the country's senior politicians, shoppers at Europe's largest mall were wondering what all the fuss was about.

While the Bluewater hoodie ban was being praised by the country's senior politicians, shoppers at Europe's largest mall were wondering what all the fuss was about.

Baseball caps and hooded tops, outlawed by the mall in Kent to make it more family friendly, were still in evidence, although the gangs of youths which apparently sport them so menacingly were not.

The ban came as bad news for staff at the centre's MacDonald's and Mr Pretzels snack stall - baseball caps are part of the uniform.

"But," said a centre worker Emma James, 27, "you should come here on a Friday night about 8 or 9 o'clock. Last week, I had to squeeze through about 60 kids at the entrance to the centre to get to my car. There was only eight or nine security officers. They couldn't do anything."

Dan Collison, who works in a sports store selling baseball caps and hoodies, said hundreds of youths can gather at the centre at any one time in the evening.

Despite this, the ban still seems a little confusing. "Sometimes 80-year-old men come in wearing baseball caps. Are they going to make them take them off too?" asked Mr Collison.

For other shoppers the new rule is unfair and won't work. "They should ban kids wearing all black, the 'gothics', if they're going to ban caps," said Robert Ashenden, 17, sporting a baseball cap and a hood.

Len Catherall, 88, who was there shopping, was sympathetic towards the new rule, but unsure how it could be enforced. "If the place is open it's open to everybody, you can't discriminate," he said.