Massive response from far and wide to Coldingham cafe petition

IN less than a week, a petition against Scottish Borders Council’s decision to serve the owner of Coldingham beach cafe with an eviction notice has gathered over 1,500 signatures.

William Harrison first received the letter from the local authority a few months ago but it wasn’t until a copy was fixed to the outside of the cafe that word spread amongst his customers.

The council claim the eviction notice was served due to Mr Harrison offering to pay “under the odds” for rental of the site on Coldingham Sands.

They told ‘The Berwickshire News’ last week that he offered to pay £600 per annum when the site’s estimated market value is £1,300.

However, Mr Harrison, owner of the cafe for the last 16 years, claims that the eviction notice stems from the council’s refusal to renew his 10-year lease, offering a three-year lease instead.

He claims this has effectively killed reinvestment into the building as a three-year lease makes the upkeep of the building financially unviable.

Whatever the reason for the notice being served, demanding that trading cease and the cafe be dismantled by September 30, it has certainly provoked an outpouring of support for the cafe.

A paper copy of the petition was first circulated in the middle of last week, with an online petition following a few days later and now both are close to reaching 800 signatures.

Comments have come from far and wide. Tobin Coles from Bristol described the cafe as “an important building in the history of British surf culture,” while Andy Humble from Newcastle wrote: “Places like this have to stay open to help encourage more people to venture further along our coastline.

“Start closing the little places and areas soon get forgotten about.”

The man who runs the cafe, Walter Powner, is not surprised by the reaction.

“It’s no more than I expected,” he commented. “People are absolutely appalled that the cafe might have to close.

“One guy drove up from Newcastle just to sign the petition, and after hearing me talking about the issue on Radio Borders two women from Earlston did the same.

“The public outrage is massive and should hopefully persuade Scottish Borders Council to extend Mr Harrison’s lease.”