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Row over outdoor eating plans in Wimborne Square
5:20am Monday 2nd December 2013 in News
AN ANGRY business owner is battling plans for Wimborne Square that would leave him “at a complete disadvantage”.
Mark Brown, who owns the franchise of Costa Coffee in the town, has spoken out after proposals to split the area into three were submitted to the district council.
The resources committee has now decided to throw the plans open to a public consultation in January, and will defer their decision.
As part of the proposals, only those businesses bordering the divides – Lloyds TSB, Wimborne Interiors and Ockenden and Hemming jewellers – will be allowed to set up outdoor cafe facilities, even though none serve refreshments.
Mr Brown, who has started a petition in the Wimborne branch, said: “The general idea is that only those places will be able to have an al fresco cafe in the square.
“It seems absolutely ridiculous to me that no one else will be able to even bid for a spot in the area.”
At a previous meeting, a consultation featuring responses from organisations including the town council, Wimborne Business Improvement District and the Chamber of Trade and Commerce revealed many were not in favour of tables and chairs in the square for one business.
However, further analysis of the comments made by responders showed that some of the ‘no’ responses may have been ‘yes’ if more than one business was allowed to operate from the designated area.
The Wimborne Town Centre Liaison Group, made up of representatives from many organisations in the town, has now changed its position and supports the provision of outdoor café facilities on the basis that the facilities are only provided by properties fronting on to the Square.
Mr Brown said: “We were initially approached by the district council asking if it was something we’d be interested in.
“We are very much interested as we really feel that it would enhance what we offer.
“It’s very disappointing to see this proposal has now been put forward.”
He added: “Although Costa Coffee is a national chain, we are a local coffee shop invested in the community.
“We have sunk everything into making this work, and it’s very upsetting for all of us.”
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