Derbyshire cafe owners hit out at council, after lease not renewed
and live on Freeview channel 276
However, it is now set to move out on Friday, November 17, after being given notice by Derbyshire County Council that its rolling lease was not being renewed – with the authority instead opting for a public tender to find the best value for money.
The venue took to social media to detail their distaste for the county council, writing: “Derbyshire County Council have adopted a policy in respect to their leased premises which does not reward or recognise loyal tenants by providing them with the opportunity to renegotiate their lease.
“Rather it places the future of small, established and successful family businesses at risk, and is seemingly happy to see 15 people be unemployed, in return for an unknown quantity, refusing to even provide such businesses with the opportunity to renegotiate their lease. The council clearly does not support small businesses.”
The venue claims the unit at Shipley Country Park has been retained on rolling tenancies for 27 years with this policy now coming to an end under a “revision” from the county council aimed at “maximising income from concessions” at its properties.
Alison Counsell, 52, took the helm of the venue after three years working there and is now in her seventh year. She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that she still “absolutely loves” the business and has kept up her passion for serving customers with homemade cakes and scones.
The venue wrote: “We will miss our great team of staff and our fabulous regular customers who have come to be a part of our fantastic extended family. We wish you all the very best for the future.”
It detailed that thousands of pounds have been invested into the business in relation to furniture, cooking equipment, tableware, appliances and decoration – along with emotional investment.
This has been on the back of three-year leases which were rolling but are felt to be too short if they are open to frequent tender, particularly when the business has to front the funding for all improvements and upkeep, the venue details.
It writes: “Our request to negotiate a renewal of our lease for Ramblers has flatly been refused by the council who state they need to secure ‘best consideration for their property assets’ which, in plain English, means to maximise their income potential. The change in the council’s approach clearly leaves existing businesses vulnerable, with no guaranteed future, yet still maintaining its costs.
“In putting the cafe out to open tender you’re totally disregarding the hard work and dedication the current leaseholders and team have put in to serve its community and regular customers.
“We’ve been denied the opportunity to renegotiate a new lease and are prepared to increase the lease payment at least in line with inflation but you’ve thrown this back in our face!
“The reason we’re reluctant to enter into a bidding war isn’t because we’re not confident, actually the opposite given we know the business inside out, it’s because we believe you already have plans for the cafe and we don’t feature. On this basis we’re not prepared to put ourselves and our team through a stressful exercise.”
A county council spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry to hear that the owners of Ramblers Café have chosen to close. The café tenancy was leased from us on a three-year basis, which has since expired, and the owners have been invited to bid for the new lease. We have a duty to make sure that we’re making the best use of our property by maximising income where we can for council-tax payers across the county.
“Inviting bids from the industry is the best way to do this, is standard practice, and we would welcome a bid from the current operators.”