Eastbourne council has denied accusations it is ‘dragging its heels’ over the new restaurant development at the former site of the Western View café.
The town’s Conservative group has criticised what it calls the lack of progress made on the seafront facility, which was closed in the summer season and has been demolished.
Planning permission has since been acquired for the site to open as a Bistrot Pierre restaurant – but concerns have been raised that the operator has not yet signed a contract.
Conservative councillor Robert Smart (Meads) said the closure of the popular café was ‘premature’ and has deprived the council of substantial sums of revenue and local people of an amenity on the seafront.
He said, “This decision has proven completely bonkers and just goes to show how disorganised the Liberal Democrat borough council is – that it would forgo thousands of pounds of revenue from this cafe while little progress is made to secure its replacement structure.
“The Lib Dems said the closure was necessary in order to prepare the opening of the new Wish Tower Restaurant next March but the project has only recently been given planning permission.
“Bistrot Pierre was touted as the operator months ago but, again, nothing more has been heard and the council moved to demolish the existing building without much guarantee in place in my view.
“This is no way to run a council; to basically close something making money and then drag heels over redeveloping the site to the point where it could have just stayed open earning much needed money to pay for local services.”
Responding to Councillor Smart’s remarks, leader of the council Councillor David Tutt (St Anthony’s) said the council has been conducting archaeological surveys on the foundations of the site.
He said, “As far as I’m concerned this is a good news story – we’re still expecting it to open for Easter next year. It’s just going to be a matter of nine to 10 months without that facility – to do all that work, build and open it is a very short time indeed.
“We have completed our dealings with the Chatsworth Estate over covenants on the site, we have conducted surveys, the building work will commence soon. And sometime in the next few days we expect to sign the lease with Bistrot Pierre.”