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Spencer's Cafe in Walpole Park: Petition launched to save independent business in Ealing gathers nearly 3,700 signatures

The popular leaseholders of Spencer's Cafe in Ealing have been told they must move out of the kiosk in January 2018

A banner outside the kiosk reads: "Save Spencer's Cafe"(Image: Alan Dillon)

The leaseholders of a much-loved cafe in Ealing have been left “devastated” after hearing they will soon be unemployed after nearly a decade of serving their community.

Spencer's Cafe, in Walpole Park, has been run by Alan Dillon and his partner Sarah Lennon for nine years after they were granted the lease by Ealing Council .

However, the pair have been told they must cease operating in January 2018 after Pitzhanger Manor Trustees took over the cafe and rejected their application for tender.

After the family-run business was told the lease would be granted to another operator, Mr Dillon set up a petition to save the cafe - which has now gathered nearly 3,700 signatures.

Speaking to getwestlondon , Mr Dillon said: “We have been good tenants, paying our rent ahead of time and providing the local community with our fair trade organic produce.

“I have built up a thriving business with loyal customers, there was no cafe in Walpole Park prior to us opening and we have worked very hard building up our small independent family business.

“We open every day of the year – including Christmas Day – and we are expected to walk away from our business in the next few weeks with no compensation or reimbursement.

“We will effectively be out of work and our lovely staff will also be out of work – as you can imagine I am devastated.

“Pitzhanger Manor Trustees didn't even afford us the courtesy of a phone call – we were told by a second-hand email from the director of Pitzhanger Manor Clare Gough.”

The "Save Spencer's Cafe" petition has now gathered nearly 3,700 signatures(Image: Change.org)

Since the launch of the petition, which had gathered 3,690 signatures by midday on Tuesday (December 12), people expressed their anger at the decision to close Spencer's Cafe.

Gary Leighton commented: “I am absolutely disgusted by the way these people have been treated. This cafe is one of the best things about walking in the park.”

Calling the cafe a "great community asset'", Paul Darter said: “They have created the cafe in the park and have been a major contributing factor to regenerating the area and providing a much needed and loved service.”

Halloween at Spencer's Cafe in Walpole Park(Image: Alan Dillon)

In a letter to Ealing Counci leader Julian Bell , MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston Zac Goldsmith added: "It is shocking that no one from either Ealing Council or PMGT thought to speak to Mr Dillon directly before pulling the plug on his business.

"Mr Dillon has invested everything into making his business a success and now with very little notice he and his staff will be without a job and a business in January."

A spokesman for Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust (PMGT) confirmed its decision to change the caterer of the Rickyard Kiosk when Pitzhanger reopens in late 2018.

He said: “Alan Dillon has a lease from Ealing Council to operate the Kiosk in Walpole Park which expires in early 2018. PMGT has to choose caterers to run the outlets when Pitzhanger reopens.

“We are well aware that that the Kiosk is a popular part of the life of the Park community - Alan Dillon and his team have provided good service since the previous café closed during the renovation work.

"Please help save our cafe"(Image: Alan Dillon)

“Mr Dillon was warmly invited to take part in the tender process run by the trust. We regret that Mr Dillon’s bid did not score as highly against the advertised criteria as other bids [and] was not shortlisted for the second stage of the process.

“Like all the parties not selected for the shortlist, Mr Dillon was told by email. We understand Alan Dillon’s disappointment that he was not successful in this competitive tender process, but the trust followed carefully a publicised tender process.

“The trust must do what it believes to be in the best interests of the wider Ealing community and of the success of the Manor & Gallery when they reopen for the benefit of the whole community.”

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