Search

Traders question cafe culture idea

PUBLISHED: 18:52 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 11:31 03 July 2010

It was going to be a Continental vision for Yarmouth with pavement cafés extending right along the seafront.

But more than half way through the second season of the scheme the broad pavements of the resort's new-look Golden Mile are still bereft of the much-heralded tables and chairs and colourful umbrellas.

It was going to be a Continental vision for Yarmouth with pavement cafés extending right along the seafront.

But more than half way through the second season of the scheme the broad pavements of the resort's new-look Golden Mile are still bereft of the much-heralded tables and chairs and colourful umbrellas.

Now, fed-up seafront traders have declared the idea an economic non-starter and are getting ready to demand that the borough council digs up some of the pavement to restore the former metered parking.

Restaurateur Andrew Michael and ice cream parlour owner Arthur Crick have pledged to bring together seafront businesses at a special meeting before the end of the season to make out their case, and insist almost everyone is of the same view.

Mr Michael, who has run the Charcoal Grill for 10 years, said the fact no one had yet applied for a pavement café licence was proof that, faced with Yarmouth's unpredictable weather, traders could not risk paying the council's licence charges that were 10 times higher than Blackpool's and even more than prime London sites.

And in the meantime, he said, restaurants were losing trade disastrously through a combination of lost parking on Marine Parade and daytime parking spaces being taken away behind the seafront due to a residents' parking scheme introduced last year.

He said: “Some of my regular customers, including some from as far away as Thetford and Royston, simply don't come anymore because of the parking.

“Lunchtime trade has been particularly badly hit. We are at the start of August, supposedly the height of the season, and I have had only 10 tables occupied from 11.30am to 3pm. My capacity is 17 tables.”

He said the final straw was that the council was proposing to turn a disused bus bay into a loading area and taxi rank instead of at least creating a couple of parking spaces.

Peter Couma, whose family has run the Beach House restaurant for 35 years, said: “The clear message we will be sending is that we want parking back because [the scheme] has destroyed seafront trade. We have had loads of complaints from tourists about parking.”

Mr Crick, who runs Lorenzo's ice cream parlour, said: “Businesses like mine have lost a lot of trade. Buying ice cream is an impulse thing. You have to be able to park outside, not walk more than a quarter of a mile.”

Michael Cole, who runs the seafront funfair, Joyland, said he applauded the results of Yarmouth's multi-million-pound seafront improvements and would welcome the idea of trying to kick-start pavement cafés by making them licence-free for a year. If that did not work, that would be the time to consider restoring parking instead.

Graham Plant, the council's cabinet member for tourism, said he thought the traders were missing the point because, in the longer run, a more attractive seafront would improve trade.

He said it was a shame that businesses were not prepared to give pavement cafés a chance - he had previously stated that, for a typical eight-table pavement café over 8 sq m, it would be just £400 a year.

Mr Plant said plans were already in place, but unfortunately delayed beyond the council's control, to allow parking for up to four hours in the current residents-only Apsley Road area.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Great Yarmouth Mercury. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Great Yarmouth Mercury