'No warning' as cafe boarded up by council
PUBLISHED: 12:30 08 October 2015
A seafront business owner, who believed he could trade 'for the foreseeable future', was shocked to find his café boarded up without warning by district bosses.
Dean Gardner ran DJ’s Café in Queens Drive, one of the businesses in that area which has faced an uncertain future under landlord East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) seafront redevelopment plans.
He had previously been told he would have to leave at the end of September, but then thought he had a reprieve when EDDC announced that the Queen’s Drive tenants could instead stay ‘for the foreseeable future’.
Mr Gardner says he was stunned when, on October 1, he received a phone call from a friend, telling him his business was being boarded up, having had no notice from the council.
Mr Gardner said: “It’s disgusting behaviour. How they can treat human beings like this is absolutely beyond me. Knowing I could stay for the foreseeable future, I spent a couple of grand on stock, and then found out they’d put boards over the café.
“It’s your livelihood they’re taking away from you. I’ve got six children to support.
“I bought that place as a going concern 10 years ago for £115,000, and spent £150,000 refurbishing it, and they want to give me less than £15,000 in compensation.”
An EDDC spokesman said: “As far back as November 27, 2014, the former tenants of DJ’s Diner [sic] had been served formal notice of our decision - as their landlord - to terminate their lease on September 30, 2015, as the site on which their former premises sits is an integral part of the first phase of the regeneration of Exmouth seafront.
“Similar notice was given to the other Queen’s Drive tenants, who consequently engaged with the council.
“Unlike the other tenants, there was a lack of formal communication from former tenants of DJ’s Diner or their legal representatives. At no time have these former tenants made clear their intention to continue trading beyond September 30.
“EDDC clearly stated that businesses currently operating at Queen’s Drive, which wanted to continue to trade beyond September 30, could do so until the necessary legal processes had been followed and concluded regarding their future, if they made their intentions clear to the council.
“The former tenants’ failure to take any formal action and/or to issue instructions to their solicitors - despite being given ample time and opportunity - has resulted in them not being legally in a position to continue trading beyond September 30.”
Mr Gardner said he initially believed he had legal proceedings under way, having met with his solicitor on September 25, but subsequently found his deadline was September 20, rather than September 30.
He says he has now ‘had enough’ of the situation.
He said: “For the last few years, I haven’t known whether I’m coming or going. I have had enough of this and just want to get my stock and get out of there.
“They have put me through enough stress. They have taken my livelihood away from me. All I want is for them to be fair with me, and give me enough time to sell my stock and equipment.”