Mad Hatters' tea party demo held outside controversial Costa cafe in Bristol
A MAD Hatters' tea party was held outside a controversial cafe in Bristol at the weekend to protest against its opening before planning permission has been granted.
The protesters wore a wide range of hats as they ate and drank tea and cakes outside the Costa cafe in Gloucester Road.
One of the protesters, Robert Telford, a teaching assistant from Montpelier, said: "We want to make a stand against this cafe opening without planning permission.
"We do not think they should be making a mockery of planning law."
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
Artist Janet Roome who has a studio in Hamilton House, Stokes Croft, and lives in St Andrew's, said: "Gloucester Road is considered to be the most vibrant High Street in Britain and that's because there are so many independent shops."
Liberal Democrat cabinet councillor Jon Rogers who represents Ashley ward, turned up to the protest.
He said: "It's very disappointing that Costa has ignored the city council's refusal of planning permission and opened anyway.
"All that we want to see is a sustainable Gloucester Road – that means a sensible mix of shops, cafes and other venues."
The franchisees have permission to serve coffee as takeaways, but if they have too many tables for people drinking inside, then they would be breaking planning rules.
No one was available for comment at the cafe.
Lib Dem Councillor Fi Hance who represents Redland ward, has written to Costa's managing director John Derkach about the issue.
She says in her letter: "You will of course know that the application for change of use for the premises was rejected by a Development Control Committee which felt, as I did, that guidelines for the area should be adhered to which recommended that no more cafes should be permitted in this section of the Gloucester Road.
"This followed a petition signed by more than 3,000 people who also felt that an additional cafe in the area was not appropriate. Your franchisee, Mr Montgomery, has chosen to open the branch nonetheless, which, although strictly within the letter of the law, cannot be said to be within its spirit."
She adds: "Clearly, significant damage is being done to the Costa brand, where previously many people, myself included, had no particular views on the subject.
"I would be grateful, therefore, if you could indicate what control you have over the franchisees in such circumstances and what measures you are able to take to prevent further damage and discord within our local community."
Stuart and Lynn Montgomery, of Westbury-on-Trym, already run Costa cafes in Henleaze, Portishead and another on Whiteladies Road, Clifton, which has been trading without correct planning consent.
An enforcement notice is being issued over their Whiteladies Road branch. Council officials are currently investigating whether a breach has occurred at the Gloucester Road premises.
A prosecution would not be possible until the outcome of an appeal against the decision to refuse planning permission.