Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TGNEWS to 80360 or you can email us Click here for details »
Controversial cafe set to be closed down
7:30am Monday 18th February 2013 in News
A POPULAR cafe in South Ockendon is set to close after a bust-up with Thurrock Council over the building’s use.
Tony’s Cafe, a bustling hub on the eerily quiet Derwent Parade, is set to close this week for being in breach of planning permission.
The cafe owner, Imam Cayir, affectionately known to locals as Tony, has been ordered to stop cooking hot food on the premises and remove tables and chairs from the cafe.
But this has saddened locals who use the cafe every day to meet and socialise over a coffee and hot breakfast.
Cafe user Mary Flowers, 71, who lives in South Ockendon, told the Gazette that coming to the cafe and seeing her friends there makes her day.
She said: “We’ve been coming here for seven years! It’s a huge part of our lives. “Ockendon’s a dead town. There’s nothing here.
“This cafe gives us a reason to get up in the morning.
“If they take it away from us I don’t know what we will do. I would be very sad.”
Norman Blackburn, 76, who also frequents the cafe, said: “There’s never any trouble here.
“We’re all friends together. It’s affordable, provides us with somewhere to meet up and the staff are lovely.”
Mr Cayir, who has owned the cafe for 10 years, said he has tried to change the type of use allowed in the cafe, but claims the council won’t allow it.
He said: “The council wants to keep it as the same type of business.
“But a lot of people love it here. I’m worried that I’ll have to close altogether.
“To change business will mean my two staff will lose their jobs as I won’t make enough money.”
Belhus ward councillor Sue Gray has vowed to support Mr Cayir.
She said: “It’s a community cafe and these people are dependent on it. Ockendon is very quiet.
“I will support Mr Cayir in his bid to keep the cafe open.”
A council spokesman said: "Unfortunately the tenant is in breach of his permitted use under the terms of his lease and permitted planning consent.
“The tenant has been operating outside the lease, as a restaurant and café.
“Cooking is not allowed on the premises or any seating – inside or out – for customers.
“Several attempts have been made to work with the tenant, but he continued to be in breach of the lease.
“The tenant appealed against the planning decision, however the planning inspectorate upheld the council’s decision on appeal.
“There is another cafe in Derwent Parade which has the appropriate agreed planning use and lease in place that will be opening again shortly.”