Five lose jobs as Calne café closes after lease and competition wrangle
A popular Calne café closed its doors last week, leaving five people out of work and many of the town’s residents angry.
Popins coffee shop and takeaway in Phelps Parade had been run by husband and wife Maureen and Norman Richardson for six and a half years, but closed on Friday.
Mrs Richardson blamed problems renewing its lease with Wiltshire Council and the opening of Costa Coffee just across from Popins, although the national chain has not yet applied for planning permission.
She said: “We have spent two years trying to renew our lease, which is a big part of the problem we’ve had.
“We just can’t seem to get the lease again.
“This is a problem about seven other businesses in Phelps Parade are having too.
“We’ve spent a fortune on solicitors’ fees, and for some reason we’ve all been unsuccessful, so there’s no security. There seems to be a problem once the application reaches Wiltshire Council.”
Mrs Richardson said she was angry nothing had been done to stop Costa Coffee moving into the town centre.
She said: “They’ve knocked two shops into one and opened their doors and there’s still no planning permission. It’s so frustrating.
“They’ve been told they can apply for retrospective planning permission – why are they getting such an easy ride? A lot of our regulars have told us they wouldn’t stop coming, but the way the economy is at the moment it only takes a few moving away to crush a business.”
Mr and Mrs Richardson had employed three part-time members of staff.
Mrs Richardson said: “Running a place like Popins is an expensive thing to be doing. For example, if our industrial washing machine breaks down, that’s £4,000.
“It just became too insecure for us to continue with the business.
“Lots of small businesses are finding they just can’t operate any more – it’s going to be the death of the High Street.
“We want to say a huge thank you to our customers – they’ve been fantastic and so supportive.
“I’m sad for them as well as us – this was a meeting place and we welcomed everyone. People came in as strangers and left as friends.”
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