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Petition launched to save popular Cardiff café

16 May 2023 2 minute read
Melissa Boothman, Secret Garden Cafe.
Photo Melissa Boothman

Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter

A petition launched to save a popular Cardiff café which is expected to have to leave its current site in Bute Park this summer, has received thousands of signatures.

The Change.org petition, titled ‘stop Cardiff Council evicting Secret Garden Café from Bute Park’ was launched on Friday May 12 and has received just over 8,000 signatures so far.

Cardiff Council said a direct award of a lease renewal for the café, which has been at the Bute Park for five years, could not be made because its tenancy has expired and “a new management agreement and associated lease are now required”.

Café owner, Melissa Boothman, received a notice to quit from the council, meaning her business has to leave the premises by August 2, after months of unsuccessful lease renewal negotiations.

The Change.org petition, set up by Cardiff resident Pam French, states: “Secret Garden Café is well loved by many across Cardiff, it is a unique, community-creating, sustainable, honest café, staffed by a team of lovely people.”

The Secret Garden Café’s lease was due to expire in March but the council has agreed for the business to stay where it is under an interim arrangement, known as a tenancy at will, pending conclusion of a procurement exercise.

A procurement process will commence on June 5 and is expected to last up to six weeks.

The petition adds: “We believe Cardiff Council and Bute Park should be supporting this amazing, sustainable, ethical, local, independent business by extending their lease without tender.”

Tender

Cardiff Council said the tender opportunity will be openly advertised to the market through Sell 2 Wales and the procurement portal Proactis.

The local authority said that the current tenant is free to place a bid of their own once the procurement process is launched.

However, with a notice to quit having been served on the business, café owner Melissa said she has left with little time to act.

Even if she decides to re-tender for the lease, Melissa said she still has just three months to tie up the business under the current uncertainty.

The council expects the successful operator to be installed or, if the current tenant puts in a bid and is successful, starting to trade under the new agreement in early August.


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