The popular ‘Refreshers’ café at the town bus station on Upper Market Street is set to close as the council has refused to renew its lease – but the manageress and staff have promised to put up a fight they say will be no storm in a tea cup!
The council have told the owners that the premises are needed so the adjoining Sainsburys store can expand its existing operation.
Manageress Lynsey Chant explained:
“Originally when our lease came up for renewal we wanted a 10 year lease but that was refused …in the end all we were offered was six months from October and that expires at the end of this month.
We did ask for a rolling one month agreement as Sainsbury’s haven’t submitted any plans yet – as far as we know – but the council would not even let us have that .We have offered money – it has made no difference – they just want us out”
The café which is open six days a week has been a feature at the bus station ever since the buses started running from there. Through the years it has been regular haunt of bus crews, taxi drivers, passengers and local workers alike many of whom have been shocked to learn of the impending closure of their favourite café.
Kall Kwik printers have printed protest flyers for free and staff at nearby Wessex house have also voiced their support.
Lynsey has also emailed all 44 councillors – but it has only earned her a rebuke from council Leader Keith House who, she claims, told her she shouldn’t be doing that.
The only councillors to show an interest have been from the Local Area Committee.
Ms Chant claims members of independent group of councillors have offered advice and pledged support.
One local café user, a 54 year old who did not wish to be named, reacted angrily to the news of the proposed closure:
“This place was ideal for me for me for a cup of tea and bacon butty. First they pulled the lease on the ballroom now this. Next thing you know they will be booting out the bingo hall and the market”
Refreshers are asking supporters to email:
to register a protest at the closure of the cafe.
Photo: ©Matthew Myatt 2011