Call for action after trader told to leave Bognor seafront

PUBLIC outcry after a popular trader was told he would have to leave the seafront when his lease expires has prompted calls for action.

As reported in the Observer last week, Alex Mills, who runs Shake and Bake on The Esplanade, has been told Arun District Council will not be renewing his lease when it runs out in December.

Since the news, Arun District Council’s ward member for the area Jeanette Warr says she has had a number of calls about the issue.

Cllr Warr said: “There is real public outcry about this. People are angry to say the least. As the Hotham ward member for the district council it is my job to represent the people I serve.

“They are not happy and I think Arun District Council need to look at their decision.

“People are demanding that Alex be allowed to stay. Shake and Bake is very popular. I know they say there have been issues in the past between the tenant and landlord, but surely these could have been sorted out in a sensible way.

“They say Alex has broken the rules, what rules has he broken,? I am not saying we should endorse breaking the rules, but they do need to be put into perspective.

“The district council need to be seen to be transparent in this.”

Cllr Warr added there had been talk of starting a petition to show support for Alex’s plight.

“People want him to stay, they have made that clear and I have a duty to support and represent residents,” she said.

Fellow councillor Paul Wells has called for the district council’s leader Gillian Brown to review the issue.

He said: “I think it is only fair and right that the leader basically reviews the issue and looks to create an equal playing field as has happened when other leases have run out and tenants have been given a one or two-year extension.”

Cllr Wells added a ‘clash’ between a landlord and tenant should not mean residents and visitors should lose out.

He said: “There has clearly been an unfortunate set of circumstances here. People are concerned and angry that a popular, well presented unit is being told to leave.

“Whatever the issues in the past, there needs to be some common sense, an understanding needs to be reached. In this clash it seems like the real loser will be the seafront.”

On Monday, Bognor Regis Town Council’s policy and resources committee agreed to take forward the idea of evoking the right to challenge to run the town’s seafront concessions. As previously reported, Arun District Council says Alex has broken the terms of the agreement and failed to comply with written warnings.

There have been disagreements over rules stating Shake and Bake, which specialises in milkshakes, cannot sell ice-creams with extras like flakes and sauces, as well as planning issues.

Arun has also asserted it has met all obligations and the lease, jointly agreed to, had always been for a fixed period and did not include any extensions.

An Arun District Council spokeswoman has reiterated what the authority said last week.

“The council always fully complies with its obligations set out in any lease agreed with its tenants and all other matters to do with the operation of leases are between the council, as landlord and its tenants,” she said.