MP Offers Backing to Local Café Under Threat

Café Blanca in Wandsworth Common station faces closure

Rosena Allin-Khan with the owners of Cafe Blanca

Rosena Allin-Khan with the owners of Cafe Blanca. Picture: Dr Rosena Allin-Khan

A local MP has joined the fight to save the café in Wandsworth Common station which is under threat of closure due to a rent review.

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, who represents Tooting, has written to Charles Horton, the CEO of Govia Thameslink who own Southern Rail, raising her concerns about the way that the company has treated the owner of Café Blanca which is situated on the platform. After the issue was raised by users of the station she met with café owner Mr Daifi.

She said in the letter, “Café Blanca is a community asset for thousands for Wandsworth Common and Balham residents, it has been for many years. Unfortunately Mr. Daifi finds himself facing the prospect of losing his livelihood through no fault of his own. Mr Daifi has been a responsible tenant since he took over the premises in 2008.”

Mr Daifi was aware for the looming end of his tenancy and contacted Govia Thameslink about a renewal but did not hear from them for five months. Then in May of this year he was asked to a meeting with company representatives at which he says he was assured that his lease would be renewed on completion of some minor improvements to the café. However, having agreed to the terms he says he was informed a few days later that the lease on the premises would be offered out to the highest bidder. Mr Daifi’s bid was unsuccessful and he now faces the prospect of the loss of his business.

Dr Allin-Khan urged Mr Horton to reconsider the decision to close the family owned business.

A spokesperson for Southern said, “We have retendered the tenancy in a process that was very fair and transparent. In actual fact, we haven’t offered the café to the highest bidder, but instead chose another local business who really impressed us with the quality of their food and drink and their proposal to improve the frontage of the café, which needs work.

“While retendering, we met with Mr Daifi and explained what he could do to bring his café up to a better standard to help his bid. We also said we would help fund improvements to the café frontage. However, the successful bidder submitted a proposal that was of much greater quality and detail which impressed us a great deal. While we know some passengers may miss Mr Daifi, we believe they will welcome the improvements our new tenant will bring.”

October 18, 2016