Winter cafe closure ‘is a bad move’

Published on: 28 Oct 2016

Vassles park

A POPULAR café described as the “Hub” of Vassals Park will be shutting its doors during the week and opening for shorter hours at weekends – a move that has caused dismay  among its customers.

The kiosk near the play park, which serves hot and cold drinks, ice creams and snacks, will be closed Monday to Friday and open 9am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays during the winter months in an effort to save money.

But dog walkers and parents who use the facility regularly say it is outrageous that the Bristol City Council-owned kiosk should be closed as it is the place they go to get a warm drink and meet up with friends.

Nick Taylor, 48, from Frenchay, uses the kiosk every day when he walks his dog and says it is the main meeting place for everyone who uses the park.

He said: “I am really not happy about the decision to close this facility and really shocked at how little notice we have been given.

“I walk my dog every day and the café is the first place I go to meet with other dog walkers. It is such a popular place and always really busy.

"It's really sad that the council is shutting the kiosk and saying the reason is because of financial reasons when they make such a big profit for three of the four seasons a year. 

“I just cannot understand it. I think it will be a really bad decision and also a dangerous decision as it is a safety hub for people especially people walking their dogs alone and especially as the days get darker earlier.

“I know that if anything was to happen I could go straight to the café and someone will be there to help. If that goes, who knows what could happen?

“I really don’t think the reasons are good enough and I personally don’t think the council care what the public think.

“The notice of the new opening hours was put up so sneakily and with such a short time frame that they obviously don’t have any intentions of listening to people’s views on the matter.”

Carol Baldwin, a dog walker, from Fishponds, said how disappointed she was with the decision.

She said: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard they were shutting the kiosk and was really surprised that there has been very little notice.

“I use the kiosk every time I walk my dog; it makes a difference walking her with a fresh cappuccino.

“I also feel for the people that will be without a job as they are always so friendly. It just makes it a nice experience visiting Vassals.”

The new café opening times will operate from November 1 until February 28.

It will be open for longer daytime hours during school holidays.

A spokesman for Bristol City Council said: "It is important that the council operates café facilities in its parks in a way that is financially sustainable.  

“Sales figures from the last four years show that the Oldbury Court café is visited far less during the winter months (November-February, not including school holidays) averaging just over 10 visitors a day.  The costs of opening and staffing the café are significantly greater during this period than the income it generates.

"Through careful resource management the park service have ensured that the café will stay open at weekends throughout the year where visitors to the park can still enjoy a quick drink and snack.  Normal service will also still remain during school holidays.”

He added: "Cafés at Blaise Castle and Ashton Court, which are better attended, will continue to operate as normal."

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