Cafe owner "gobsmacked" at 800 name petitionBy Becky Barnes
October 08, 2012
The owner of a cafe faced with a 1,000 per cent rent rise said he was "gobsmacked" at the support shown by the users.
Andy Jordan, owner of the Pinewood Bar and Cafe in Old Wokingham Road, Crowthorne, gathered together 800 names on a petition against plans from Wokingham Without Parish council to increase the cafe's rent from £2,000 a year to £22,000.
The petition was handed in at a meeting of Wokingham Without Parish Council on Monday, October 1 where councillors decided to defer any decision to increase the rent until the new year.
At the meeting, Cllr Gerry Brown said: “We need to time to collate and take advice, and the sooner this is resolved the better.
“We will have constructive discussions with Mr and Mrs Jordan in the next few weeks.”
After the meeting Mr Jordan, 57, said: “It gives us some breathing space. We’re there to stay, though, and don’t want to move. I don’t think the parish council really thought it through.
“It’s got to be resolved because there needs to be a café and there is a need for it. There’s no other place like it, it’s absolutely unique.”
Andy and Pauline spent their £75,000 life savings refurbishing the bar and café. Around 30 people attended the meeting to support the couple.
Andy added: “It was an amazing turnout – I was gobsmacked and it shows the support is there.
“We are a community centre, rather than a commercial one, so we want to go forward on that basis.”
Cllr Brown said afterwards the parish council did not want to see the bar and café close. He added: “It is an integral part of the site and an important part of the whole atmosphere there. It’s a question of affordability.
“We want to be supportive of the café and find a realistic solution to the problem.”
However, one woman, who attended the meeting and asked not to be named, said she felt the decision to postpone the outcome until January was ‘unjust’.
“The cafe is the only place in the area to go,” she said. “It is a very good community facility. Raising the rent to £22,000 is ludicrous.”
She added: “My feeling was that the councillors were extremely rude to the public at the meeting.
“I am amazed they sit like this with their backs to the public.”
Janine Jackson, who works part-time at the café said: “The new rent is outrageous. Of course rent goes up but that is just extreme and makes someone feel they are not wanted.”