Unhappiness at pavement widening for cafe culture

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When the pavement was widened in Strand Road, Port Erin, there was no mention of it being part of a scheme to encourage ‘cafe culture’, Cafe Delicious proprietor Julian Garforth has complained.

The work, done last winter, led to considerable disruption for Mr Garforth’s business (on the lower promenade) and he said it led to him closing the cafe for several months.

Early last month (April 9), Port Erin commissioner Lorna MacKellar said the pavement work – funded by regeneration money and the Department of Infrastrcuture, which is outside the ice cream parlour – ‘was built like that to encourage cafe culture’.

She said the ice cream parlour tenant was told by planning, if they put tables and chairs there they would have to erect permanent barriers.

But under the village’s guidelines governing street furniture, they could make it a special area, exempting it from the need to erect permanent barriers. The authority agreed to make it a special area.

Mr Garforth said when the work was being done, that the wider pavement would lead to an application for tables and chairs by who ran the parlour.

He said this would defeat the object of the work, which was to improve the safety of pedestrians in the area.

‘I knew this would happen,’ he said in response to hearing of the ice cream parlour’s plan for tables and chairs.

‘When they first started doing the work, the Department of Infrastructure said they were widening the pavement. I could see sense in that. At no time from commissioners or anybody, did anyone say it was, like Lorna MacKellar said, built as an extension to encourage cafe culture, but there was never any mention of that.’

He added four car parking spaces have also been lost and will make an ‘official complaint’ about the application for tables and chairs.

‘There is no question if they do that, the pavement will go back to what it was before. It’s a health and safety issue.’

He added: ‘I’m just baffled. I would never have thought there is the money [in government] for that sort of thing.

‘If they do it [widening] for one [business] they should do it for all, if they set the precedent. I feel upset money has been spent like that. We had four months of disruption, we had to shut up shop.’

Phil Gawne, chairman of the South West Regeneration Committee, said: ‘It’s designed to significantly improve the whole outlook of that part of Port Erin, it’s very clear to me that it’s the most beautiful bay probably in the British Isles yet we have not done anything about the infrastructure.

‘There was a vast area of decaying tarmac and it was quite difficult for pedestrians and dangerous for kids to go over the road and get an ice cream at the parlour.

‘We needed to improve that whole area. Widening it we envisaged there would be some tables and chairs there.’

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