Station cafe told to close by train firm

Who will be the winners in Southend Victoria Station businesses bidding war

Who will be the winners in Southend Victoria Station businesses bidding war

First published in News

A POPULAR cafe at a railway station is set to close after it lost out on a new contract to a higher bidder.

Independent cafe Milk and Sugar, based at Southend Victoria Station, had to put in for the new tender in order to keep serving customers.

The cafe has been allowed to trade rent free for the time being, but its customers, many of them on first-name terms with devastated owner Fergal Grant, are angry it is having to close.

Theresa Whybrow, 48, of Stadium Road, Southend, who uses the cafe most days on her way to work at the council offices at the Civic Centre, said: “I don’t want to see it closed.

This is a community based cafe.

“Fergal knows everyone by their first names and talks to everyone. He knows all about people who go there and looks out for the vulnerable who go their regularly for a chat.

“If I have to start a petition, I will and there will be many who will sign and support it. It’s a great cafe with a TV and books and art. It’s just a lovely little place.”

Harry Edgington, from Southend, who is also a regular at the cafe, said: “Southend Victoria Station is about to lose one of its most valuable assets.

“Greater Anglia has managed to repeatedly upset its own staff, and travellers and this is clearly another triumph for them.”

Mr Grant said: “I am still waiting any formal outcome from Greater Anglia, but I will be sorry to go. I will be sorry to leave my loyal customers and the business I have built over the past five years.”

It is thought other businesses at the station could also leave.

John Lamb, Southend Council’s deputy leader and councillor responsible for regeneration, said: “I feel very sad about this. I hope the other little local businesses stay there. We need these kind of businesses.

They are a great help locally.”

A spokesman for Abellio Greater Anglia said: “Where commercial tenancies at stations are due for review, we will always ensure the proper processes to re-let station premises are followed.

“In this instance, the existing tenant has been unsuccessful in re-bidding, but in the meantime before the new tenancy commences, we are making provision for them to continue to trade rent free. Other tenancy agreements at the station are also undergoing review as part of the normal re-letting cycle for commercial partners operating tenancies at our stations.”

Uncertainty for other businesses

MORE businesses are facing uncertainty over whether they will be able to carry on trading at Victoria Station.

The Echo understands both the Londis and Rossco’s Barbershop units have been put up for tender in the station’s shopping area.

A worker at Londis, who did not want to be named, said the store had heard nothing, but silence from Greater Anglia, creating anxiety both for staff and the leaseholder.

He said: “They don’t tell us anything. The lease runs out at the end of the month, but we don’t know whether we’re coming or going.

“For all we know, they could ask us to clear out in a week, but there’s no way we can clear out in the space of a week. I left a job I’d been doing for 17 years in Shoebury to work here five months ago and I don’t even know if I’m going to have a job at the end of the month.

“I’m going to be out looking for work, but there’s not exactly a lot of that around at the

Comments (11)

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7:15am Fri 28 Mar 14

the citizen says...

This is not right...but very difficult to compete against the "big boys" who will throw money at this cafe to get hold of it. One condition that ought to be set is that only companies that pay proper corporation tax and not avoid their responsibilities to us should be allowed to tender. Probably not possible...but morally right.
This is not right...but very difficult to compete against the "big boys" who will throw money at this cafe to get hold of it. One condition that ought to be set is that only companies that pay proper corporation tax and not avoid their responsibilities to us should be allowed to tender. Probably not possible...but morally right. the citizen
  • Score: 9

8:17am Fri 28 Mar 14

Evilgenius75 says...

They should bring back the pub that was in the station. Happy memories of that place :-)
They should bring back the pub that was in the station. Happy memories of that place :-) Evilgenius75
  • Score: 0

10:20am Fri 28 Mar 14

Signs of the times says...

Why do large companies keep doing this? I appreciate its to make money, but we need more small independent shops etc rather than yet another massive chain. Good luck to Fergal at Milk 'n' Sugar
Why do large companies keep doing this? I appreciate its to make money, but we need more small independent shops etc rather than yet another massive chain. Good luck to Fergal at Milk 'n' Sugar Signs of the times
  • Score: 17

10:59am Fri 28 Mar 14

Elephantman2 says...

This is greedy Greater Anglia maximising their profit before they loose the franchise - which they will.

At Rochford they bumped up the rent on the lady running the refreshment counter between 06:00 & 10:00 as they wanted more money and believed that someone would outbid her for operating all day. They are pig ignorant of their own business as Rochford does not have a particularly high footfall after 10:00 so nobody bid.

When these greedy shysters went back to the lady who they had forced out to offer her the tenancy back, she quite rightly said she was not interested.

The sooner we stop subsiding the Dutch National Railway with profits from Greater Anglia the better!
This is greedy Greater Anglia maximising their profit before they loose the franchise - which they will. At Rochford they bumped up the rent on the lady running the refreshment counter between 06:00 & 10:00 as they wanted more money and believed that someone would outbid her for operating all day. They are pig ignorant of their own business as Rochford does not have a particularly high footfall after 10:00 so nobody bid. When these greedy shysters went back to the lady who they had forced out to offer her the tenancy back, she quite rightly said she was not interested. The sooner we stop subsiding the Dutch National Railway with profits from Greater Anglia the better! Elephantman2
  • Score: 7

11:40am Fri 28 Mar 14

emcee says...

This is, indeed, a case of greed, greed, greed and greed. Nothing more, nothing less.
This loophole in the law, which allows a successful business be turfed out in favour of another, just because the owner of the property is greedy, should be closed. I am not saying the property owner should not be allowed to increase rents but even these rent increases should have a legal ceiling.
This is, indeed, a case of greed, greed, greed and greed. Nothing more, nothing less. This loophole in the law, which allows a successful business be turfed out in favour of another, just because the owner of the property is greedy, should be closed. I am not saying the property owner should not be allowed to increase rents but even these rent increases should have a legal ceiling. emcee
  • Score: 13

12:14pm Fri 28 Mar 14

pembury53 says...

emcee wrote:
This is, indeed, a case of greed, greed, greed and greed. Nothing more, nothing less. This loophole in the law, which allows a successful business be turfed out in favour of another, just because the owner of the property is greedy, should be closed. I am not saying the property owner should not be allowed to increase rents but even these rent increases should have a legal ceiling.
consequence of the tory 'free market' mentallity..... everything out to tender, the rich get richer and the public take the hit, time and time again...... unfortunately alot of you voted for that, and still do.............
[quote][p][bold]emcee[/bold] wrote: This is, indeed, a case of greed, greed, greed and greed. Nothing more, nothing less. This loophole in the law, which allows a successful business be turfed out in favour of another, just because the owner of the property is greedy, should be closed. I am not saying the property owner should not be allowed to increase rents but even these rent increases should have a legal ceiling.[/p][/quote]consequence of the tory 'free market' mentallity..... everything out to tender, the rich get richer and the public take the hit, time and time again...... unfortunately alot of you voted for that, and still do............. pembury53
  • Score: 0

5:17pm Fri 28 Mar 14

x2k says...

That's a nice little cafe, decent prices, and most importantly, great service.

The problem with large corporations following a tender process is that licences get awarded, not to those who are genuinely best, but those who know how to fill in tenders and have experience of the type of thing to put.

That's why good independents lose out to big soulless national chains. A sad loss :-(
That's a nice little cafe, decent prices, and most importantly, great service. The problem with large corporations following a tender process is that licences get awarded, not to those who are genuinely best, but those who know how to fill in tenders and have experience of the type of thing to put. That's why good independents lose out to big soulless national chains. A sad loss :-( x2k
  • Score: 5

9:59pm Fri 28 Mar 14

heartbeat says...

I suppose it will be another dreary boring and massively overpriced Costa Coffee or Starbucks. While on the subject I think it is disgusting and outrageous that Costa Coffee now monopolise the waiting area at Southend Hospital. Thousands of patients cannot afford to buy their ridiculously priced food and drink! What with being fleeced for parking, hospital appointments are very expensive.
I suppose it will be another dreary boring and massively overpriced Costa Coffee or Starbucks. While on the subject I think it is disgusting and outrageous that Costa Coffee now monopolise the waiting area at Southend Hospital. Thousands of patients cannot afford to buy their ridiculously priced food and drink! What with being fleeced for parking, hospital appointments are very expensive. heartbeat
  • Score: 2

11:30am Sat 29 Mar 14

the citizen says...

heartbeat wrote:
I suppose it will be another dreary boring and massively overpriced Costa Coffee or Starbucks. While on the subject I think it is disgusting and outrageous that Costa Coffee now monopolise the waiting area at Southend Hospital. Thousands of patients cannot afford to buy their ridiculously priced food and drink! What with being fleeced for parking, hospital appointments are very expensive.
I still think it's amazing that the Costa still sell all their salt, sugar and fat laden food products in the Hospital. Somewhat a clash of philosophies. "We give you cardiovascular diseases...and they can pick up the pieces after your heart attack or stroke" . Oh well it could be worse...it could be those tax avoiders Starbucks!
[quote][p][bold]heartbeat[/bold] wrote: I suppose it will be another dreary boring and massively overpriced Costa Coffee or Starbucks. While on the subject I think it is disgusting and outrageous that Costa Coffee now monopolise the waiting area at Southend Hospital. Thousands of patients cannot afford to buy their ridiculously priced food and drink! What with being fleeced for parking, hospital appointments are very expensive.[/p][/quote]I still think it's amazing that the Costa still sell all their salt, sugar and fat laden food products in the Hospital. Somewhat a clash of philosophies. "We give you cardiovascular diseases...and they can pick up the pieces after your heart attack or stroke" . Oh well it could be worse...it could be those tax avoiders Starbucks! the citizen
  • Score: 0

3:55pm Sat 29 Mar 14

TowerBlockDreams says...

I knew Fergal when he was first opening, at the time I had a job (briefly) as a ticket barrier operator for Nation Express East Anglia as it were at the time, he put a lot of work into the place and I am so sorry for him as he truly is the nicest of people you could ever wish to meet, I will be emailing Greater Anglia Trains to voice my fury! Most unfair, if Fergal is reading this I hope you are keeping well and thank you for all those coffees that kept me warm that winter while I worked there.
I knew Fergal when he was first opening, at the time I had a job (briefly) as a ticket barrier operator for Nation Express East Anglia as it were at the time, he put a lot of work into the place and I am so sorry for him as he truly is the nicest of people you could ever wish to meet, I will be emailing Greater Anglia Trains to voice my fury! Most unfair, if Fergal is reading this I hope you are keeping well and thank you for all those coffees that kept me warm that winter while I worked there. TowerBlockDreams
  • Score: 6

3:14pm Wed 2 Apr 14

slinks says...

You have a tried and tested business, paying its way, employing people, happy customers, no problems, against a higher bidder that presumably will fund the higher bid by lower wages and higher prices to the public. Greed from the top with no morality. Keep fergal in!
You have a tried and tested business, paying its way, employing people, happy customers, no problems, against a higher bidder that presumably will fund the higher bid by lower wages and higher prices to the public. Greed from the top with no morality. Keep fergal in! slinks
  • Score: 3

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