Café reopens in Derbyshire country park after hundreds sign petition

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A petition signed by hundreds of people has spurred a council into rapid action to reopen a beloved country park café .

The café in question is the Derby Lodge Tea Rooms in Shipley Country Park, near Heanor.

Charities and their volunteers had run the venue for 14 years at a rent of just £500 a year to Derbyshire County Council.

However, last year, the charity in control at the time, United Response, which supports people with disabilities, handed in its six-month notice to the authority.

Once the community had caught wind of the imminent closure, a petition was submitted signed by 2,254 people.

The venue closed its doors in March this year.

A council meeting today (Thursday, July 11) confirmed that the venue would reopen on Saturday, July 20, after a rapid tendering exercise by the county authority.

Richard Bonner, the assistant head of Countryside Services at the council, said: “The charity chose to surrender its lease in order to pursue other projects and then it quickly became apparent that there was quite a lot of local interest in continuing with a tea rooms facility in the park.”

The council opened a tender from April 5-26 for a company to run the facility.

Companies putting forward interest had to prove that the venue would retain its social value.

Three businesses put forward bids and the successful applicant was a James Stevenson.

The council said that Mr Stevenson intended to reopen the venue as soon as possible.

Councillor Simon Spencer, the cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure, said: “I am delighted that the petition process has proved it works and that this situation has been turned around so quickly.

“Hopefully the new tenants will be very successful.”

The petition had said: “On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, the Lodge Tea Rooms, Shipley Park is due to close, making the people who work there redundant and leaving the local community and regular daily customers without a place to relax, socialise etc.

“For many of our customers the tea room is a lifeline as it is the only place some of our customers get to see other people and are supported and get to see or make friends.

“We are petitioning Derbyshire County Council to keep the Lodge Tea Rooms at Shipley Park open.”