Cllr Douglas Johnson talks about the petition to save Rose Garden Café in Graves Park.
“This week in Council we had campaigners for the Rose Garden Cafe in Graves Park bring their petition of over 11,000 signatures to the Council and they are asking for a restoration of the cafe which was suddenly closed in the summer due to building defects that are said to make it unsafe. It’s a really difficult situation, closing that popular cafe right at the beginning of the school holidays. Not a good look for the Council to be fair. And of course, this all stems from a mistake in 2009 under a previous administration when they outsourced the Council service to a private company and they set up the building with no provision for repairs. Literally, the Council should have done the repairs but there was no plan for it, so we have now got a building defect which means the building can’t be used. There’s a big question as to what happens to the cafe building next. And in response to the campaigners it’s really difficult because we would just love to say, yes, that’s a priority, we’ll put the money in there. But the reality is the Council is really, really stuck for money at the moment and putting money into one park means that we have to take it away from other parks, like Abbeyfield Park in Pitsmoor which really needs the investment as well. So for me as a Green, the really important thing is to work with campaigners and think about how they can work alongside our staff in the Parks Department and try and make a better park for everyone given all the restraints on resources and time available to us. There’s a great community there. They could do fundraising, they could get the word out, support designs for how they want to see the cafe work and run well into the future and make it fit for another hundred years to add to the hundred years it has already been going.”