Closure of ‘unviable’ community café sparks new protest petition

AN ONLINE PETITION to keep a Langton Green community hub and café open has reached 1,500 supporters in just two days, with signatures continuing to be added.

Located in the Recreation Ground near the Speldhurst Parish Council office, Langton Pavilion Café’s licence is set to expire on March 31. Customers and supporters have rallied to its defence with a petition on

Started by a local customer, the petition highlights the wealth of community activities that the café has hosted, which have included drop-in family sessions and mental health talks.

The petition states: “This cafe is a lifeline to local families, not just as a safe space for parents, grandparents, caregivers to enjoy a hot drink and food with toys, books, etc., but also the pop events that are arranged, drop in midwife sessions (even more critical with the threatened closure of children centres) [sic], but also local markets, community lunches and events.”

Café Manager Emma Howden thanked her customers and her team, and said: “My amazing team and I are absolutely devastated that we will no longer be there to give something to the community.

“We will desperately miss the amazing customers we have grown to love and know so well.”

In a statement, Speldhurst Parish Council (SPC) expressed ‘sincere disappointment’ saying: “It cannot be overstated how significant the café’s contributions to the local community have been.

“Café Manager Emma’s tireless work running the space is commendable, and SPC fully recognises the positive impact she has had.”

However, it said the decision had been taken following discussions between the Parish Council, Langton Green Community Sports Association (LGCSA) and the café.

It added: “The café’s licence expires on the 31st of March. After extensive discussions, it appears that there is no workable route forward to issue a new licence which sees all parties satisfied.

As such, the café will cease to operate after this date.

“SPC sincerely hope to avoid similar situations occurring in the future and wish matters had turned out differently.

“We would like to express again our deepest appreciation for all the benefits that Emma and the Pavilion Café provided for the community.”

Meanwhile, LGCSA chairman Guy Lambert also thanked Ms Howden for her contributions and offered her the Association’s ‘very best wishes’.

However, his statement added: “It has become apparent that the current operation of the cafe is unviable.

Further, the operation of the cafe had expanded in a manner which limited other uses for the building.

He said: “What is totally clear is that many view a cafe as central to village life at Langton. LGCSA has our community at its heart and in our DNA – and we agree.

“As soon as a sustainable model for managing the building is determined, we look forward to improving, re-instating and continuing the activities which we all value.

“And we look forward to future discussions with any interested parties to create a sustainable, vibrant, community hub.”

The petition is at:

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