The Leader of the Conservative Group on the Council, Cllr George Carroll, together with candidates, gathered to receive a petition that has amassed over 5500 signatures in favour of keeping the restaurant outdoor seating on Penarth Esplanade.
The Vale County Council issued a notice to traders on the Esplanade that they will have to remove seating that was installed during the pandemic by June 30.
Conservative candidates have strongly objected to the decision to revoke traders’ licences in favour of an extra 14 spaces. Cllr. George Carroll commented “No one disputes the need for better parking provision in Penarth. But we must also support the needs of local businesses.
There needs to be more consultation. Decisions should be community-led, with the views of residents, local businesses and their customers taken into account. As things stand, the Council have not tried to achieve that.”
Casa De Margarita, a popular Penarth Esplanade restaurant, is one of the businesses faced with the removal of its outdoor seating by June 30th.
Margaret Studz, the owner of Casa De Margarita, commented “The current councillors seem oblivious to the problems of the hospitality trade. Covid-19 still badly affects us as people remain nervous about entering venues. We’re also under pressure with finding staff and keeping them on board when new uncertainty arises such as the situation we’re currently in.
“The Conservatives have said they support the motion to retain the seating and I hope the people of the Plymouth ward will vote to remove the incumbent Independents in favour of other Councillors. I am pursuing a claim for judicial review on the basis that the council did not have any consultation, nor review of policy, before the meeting that decided to revoke the licence and that has to be wrong.
“This is all about voting in the elections and nothing else. I have offered a free bus service from the car park to the Esplanade and it would mean an extra 50 spaces versus the 14 closings of the outside seating. The Vale County Council have been informed of this offer but will not discuss it.”
Beachcliff, where the premises are situated, is a central part of Penarth’s historic waterfront. Amongst the bars and restaurants, it offers a hotel and other accommodation, particularly for directors and actors. The Michelin starred James Sommerin restaurant closed its door amidst the first wave of Covid-19 in July 2020 and the current traders express frustration that they may be forced to face the same fate.
Richard Hayward, the owner of the Beachcliff complex where Casa De Margarita is based, said “The Officers of the Council appear to be refusing to discuss solutions, which, as public servants, must be wrong – particularly as legal process has begun. I have been trying to mediate and find a solution but I can find no officer who is prepared to discuss the matter. The waste of public funds could amount to £1m in respect of costs to the loser if the council should lose.
“If the restaurants close, our loss would amount to more than £2m and we could also bring a claim against the Council. Margaret Studz has said she intends to close the premises if the licences for street trading are revoked.
“I have tried to engage with one of them and they refused to discuss the matter. It is really up to the people in the Plymouth Ward to vote for the change they want to see.”
You can view the petition here
Left to right in photo: Kelly Alderman, Robin Smith, George Carroll, Ian Fowler, Rod Thomas and Jeff Tree.