An open letter to Jason Kitcat
As a cafe user for over twenty years and now a "Friend" of the cafe, I feel shocked that Mr Kitcat isn't being open here. David Sewell has had huge stress because of the spin and rhetoric being put out by the Council. And now it is at least partially out: After over 70 years they plan to knock the current building down without the agreement of the community and the Sewell family who own this space in spirit and as leaseholders of well over half a century - the cafe and its patio.
The so called "consultation" he claims has taken place is only recent and only as a result of complaints from David and the friends that there's been no consultation up until then. Mr Kitcat - you are out of touch and you are not being reported to properly by your staff. This is about removing a family who represent one of the last bastions of local business, soon to be swept aside from a council whose "big vision" is ignoring the spirit and heart this part of the Gardens.
The Sewell family, who don't just run the cafe but also fully engage with this unique area with community activities, charity support and involvement in the North Laines, will most likely (at best) be offered smaller space elsewhere, with little or no patio space, and an inflated rent. They'll be effectively removed by that horrible or impossible offer. (It''s an old trick to get tenants out). The community does not want this change. We have not been asked and we represent tens of thousands of people. So, I'm sad to say it is now going to be protest time. Jason Kitcat - you do not own this decision because there's long history here and this space now has a cultural life of its own and we will do all we can to prevent it.
Seventy years worth of people, famous, from politics and from the streets of our city will do all we can to prevent you. We will all make our voice heard and hold you to account for the lack of democracy being practised here. You are causing the family awful stress. Moral ownership of this part of the Pavilion Estate rests with its community and that community is bigger and going to be more active and outraged than you realise.
Ironically, a local business in an established cafe could really boost your bid and plans. We are the ace in your lottery-bid pack if you had the heart to see it. You should now personally contact David and the Friends, apologise for the unnecessary stress you are all causing a fine family, and engage in an open dialogue that recognises that any final decision here rests with the community you have failed to engage with. You are all really misjudging the strength of support for the Sewells and the love of this eclectic 1930s building. We will not allow you nor your team to ruin this precious part of the gardens and drive a local family business away.