RESIDENTS in South Ockendon have petitioned Thurrock Council in a bid to save a popular cafe.
TONY’S Cafe, on Derwent Parade, has been condemned by the authorities for being in breach of planning permission and owner, Imam Cayir has been ordered to stop cooking hot food on the premises and remove tables and chairs.
At last week’s full Council meeting Cllr Charles Curtis presented a petition with 780 signatures asking the Council to change the status of the shop from a Class Business One Use to Class Three.
He said: “I fully understand what the people of Belhus and South Ockendon are asking for. This is a very important hub of our community life. It is where both young and elderly come together for a cup or tea and a chat and more importantly a hot meal.
“The cafe employs four local people and had been operating as a class three premises without problems for nine years. It offers warmth and comfort for so many people living in our area.
“I sincerely hope that our officers can come together and make this happen sooner rather than later.”
At the cafe, customers spoke about why they want to to stay.
Ian Morrison, 59, from South Ockendon said: “I don’t see why they are shutting it down. There’s no reason for it.”
Tucking into a bacon sarnie, Mrs Joyce Markham, 92, South Ockendon: “It’s disgusting. It seems a stupid idea to me. The cafe is always busy, what’s the matter with them?
“They’ve been here nearly 10 years and now to suddenly shut it, well! You can always get a cooked meal. We’re in here twice a week and its ever so clean. It’s disgusting what the Council are doing.”
Her friend, Mrs Joan Merry, 83, said: “We’ve signed the petition and we hope it will help. We come whenever we can and when we go to the shops. It’s lovely.”