Businesses and residents rally round as park’s café threatened with closure

Businesses and residents rally round as park's caf© threatened with closure

‘The Inside’ opened in Calverley Grounds as a community business in 2019, which owner Laura Parker admitted was not good timing due to the pandemic.

Since then and despite providing coffee, snacks and food, as well as organising events in the playground including activity trails and treasure hunts, the business has struggled to bring in enough customers and now faces closure.

“Costs are mounting against us and every day we struggle to simply break even,” Laura told the Times.

“The problems really started last summer as everybody went on holiday, went to see this friend or that friend – and it was just really quiet. After that, it was a really tough winter for us.”

She said the location of the café might also be part of the problem.

“The playground is so popular, and people are so loyal to it, but the café is tucked away so people just… forget we’re here,” she said. “It’s just a cauldron of so many factors. It’s just heartbreaking.”

The Council, which owns and manages Calverley Grounds, has a plan to cut back some willows, which could make the café more prominent, but Laura said footfall in the park was generally down.

But residents and park goers as well as other local businesses have offered support with donations to a fundraiser on GoFundMe.

“Originally, I said I didn’t want to do a fundraiser. I want this to be sustainable. But I was quite shocked and quite emotional about the response I’ve received.”

Fellow café owner Geff Stone of The Plant Base in Camden Road, whose own business fell into difficulty earlier this year when the roof caved in but was helped by the Tunbridge Wells business community, is among those offering financial assistance.

“Geff is amazing. When they had their problems, I reached out to them, so it’s amazing they’re helping,” added Laura.

The fundraiser is set at £4,000, which she said should be enough to put the café on a sustainable footing, although she would ideally like support from a corporate sponsor.

“By the end of August, we will need to sit down to make a plan, whether that means serving notice to the Council or staying open,” admitted Laura.

Laura’s fundraiser is at

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