Coldingham beach cafe faces closure

Coldingham Beach cafe owner William Harrison outside who will cease trading and remove the building from the site before the end of September
Coldingham Beach cafe owner William Harrison outside who will cease trading and remove the building from the site before the end of September

THE beach cafe which has served visitors to Coldingham Sands for the best part of 100 years could be about to cook up its last meal after its owner has been served with an eviction notice from Scottish Borders Council.

In the letter from the local authority, William Harrison, who has owned the cafe for the last 16 years, has been told he has until September 30 to cease trading and dismantle the building.

This has come a big shock to him as he has run the business without any complaint from SBC after spending £30,000 of his own money on breathing new life into it.

But the council say that Mr Harrison has been paying under the odds for the site as its market value is now estimated at £1,300 per annum.

They told ‘The Berwickshire’: “When he took up the lease of the site in 1996, the rent was set at £525 per annum.

“Mr Harrison agreed an increase to £550 per annum in 1998 and has refused to accept any rental increases since then.

“In January this year he offered to pay an increase of £50 per annum to £600 which the council refused.

“As we were unable to agree a realistic market rental figure for the site the council took steps to terminate Mr Harrison’s lease.”

News of the eviction notice spread quickly and both employees and loyal customers are shocked the cafe could be just weeks away from closing for good.

The day-to-day running of the beach cafe is on the shoulders of Walter Powner and he said it would be a travesty for the Sands to lose the facility as it was “the heart and soul of the beach.”

“The building’s been here for the best part of 100 years,” he commented. “It’s part and parcel of people’s experience when they come here and that’s before you consider how much Mr Harrison has spent on it, drastically improving the interior.

“We’re blessed with a lovely beach here but the cafe itself is a big draw for a lot of people. It’s the heart and soul of the beach. When it’s sunny there’s people wandering in and out all the time and when it’s raining it’s packed with people sheltering from the weather.”

Should the cafe close, three members of staff would lose their part time jobs, but they won’t be the only ones affected. Helen Hawthorn from Edinburgh has been using the cafe since she was a youngster growing up in Berwickshire and she has been bringing her family back to Coldingham for decades.

“I’ve been coming here all my life and my parents and grandparents did too. Now I bring my grandchildren with me and it would be terrible for the cafe not to be here.”

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council added: ”The Council is currently investigating alternative ways of providing continuity in the seasonal catering operation at the Bay for next season in 2013 but no decisions have yet been made.”