Council denies café idea is ‘disrespectful’

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Crawley Borough Council has denied that the proposed introduction of a mobile café to the Memorial Gardens shows “a lack of respect”.

The council has received 14 expressions of interest from traders keen to run the outlet from June 8 until the end of March 2014.

But, while the idea has been welcomed by some, others have criticised the proposal saying the land should not be used to make a profit.

Crawley Historian Nadine Hygate pointed out that the land was purchased by the town’s parishioners following the First World War and that one of the covenants imposed was that “no persons could make money by trading on the memorial”.

She said: “Whether the proposed facility is a mobile or permanent facility it is irrelevant, this still breaches the covenant.”

Miss Hygate added: “I would urge the council to re-think their decision, please, and honour the agreements made by their predecessors.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Jean Avery, of Malthouse Road, Southgate.

Mrs Avery said: “Unfortunately, this is an ill-conceived and potentially lucrative project that shows gross lack of respect to the parishioners who so sadly lost their lives, and especially for those with no known graves.”

There was a mixed reaction on the Observer’s Facebook page.

Simon Edwards said: “I agree a coffee shop would be good as long as it’s an independent concern.

“The council could help someone start a new business.”

But Jane Murphy was less supportive of the idea and said: “Might as well a three-ring circus and a fun fair there too - I thought it was meant to be a quiet park.”

A council spokesman said: “We do not think the provision of a small, mobile concession shows a lack of respect to the memory of people who donated and paid for the memorial.

“The Memorial Gardens are already an extremely popular place to relax in the town centre, with hundreds of people taking food and drink in every day.

“We will make sure that any proposals put forward by interested parties are fitting for the Memorial Gardens before allowing them to start.”