THE OWNER of a popular burger van said she is “so sad” to be leaving after council officials said they wouldn't renew her trading licence over 'unpaid rent'.

Cecilia 'Monica' Brind, 50, started the Whitecliff Pan & Grill Snackbar 25 years ago, operating out of a van in the Whitecliff Recreation car park.

However, after falling behind on her rent, and with the council’s plans to build a new café on the sports field, Ms Brind is having to close her business down.

She said: “I’m so sad to leave. I’m on to the third generation I have served. I serve locally and use local products. The businesses and the community have all supported me. I love the community.

“I’m one month behind on my rent and (the council) gave me until the end of January to leave. They want to privatise it all.

“I work and live here, I’m a very independent woman. I am going to go back to the Philippines to refresh.”

Ms Brind said she needed to go back to the Philippines after the stress of losing her business but hopes to return to the area to open up a shop.

She wrote some words of thanks to her 'loyal' customers on the whiteboard in her van.

The sign read: “Thank you to all our customers for your loyalty over the past 25 years.

“The council see fit to develop this site and are not renewing our trade licence, so we are having to close down. Thank you all for your loyalty.”

One customer said: “These are the best burgers in town.” Another told the Daily Echo: "She’s so lovely, it’s so sad to see.”

A spokesperson for BCP Council said: “We can confirm that we have given Whitecliff Pan Grill & Snack Bar notice to leave following the expiry of a short-term agreement and as a result of the business being heavily in arrears on rent payments to the council.

“Following discussions of those arrears with the owner of the business, it has made no attempt to begin paying these off. The decision was subsequently taken to ask the business to leave. It should no longer be trading at this location.

“We sympathise with regular customers of the business and regret that it has come to this point. However, we must protect the interests of local residents and cannot permit private businesses to be subsidised by council taxpayers. We are currently out to tender for the pavilion next to the car park and this concession will include permanent catering facilities.”