Vandalised Grove Park cafe refused metal shutters

Grove Park cafe after it was vandalised Image copyright Jane Horler
Image caption The cafe in the Grade II listed park has been broken into twice within a fortnight

The owner of a cafe which has been repeatedly vandalised has been told he cannot install metal shutters as his business is in a conservation area.

John Horler transformed the former shelter in Weston-super-Mare's Grove Park into a cafe 10 years ago.

After two break-ins within a fortnight he asked North Somerset Council for permission to install new shutters in place of the current wooden ones.

The council refused on the grounds it "would not be appropriate in the area".

Mr Horler said he was told by council planners "under no circumstances" would he be allowed to put metal shutters on the building.

Image caption The cafe owner says the wooden shutters are no protection from vandals and wants to install metal ones

The cafe has been broken into five times in the past five years, costing Mr Horler about £20,000 in lost business, repairs and replenishing stock.

"It's a joke - I can't get insurance and I'm getting no back-up [from the council] - it's disgraceful," said Mr Horler.

In the first of the most recent attacks, thieves used a paving slab to smash their way into the cafe before making off with food and drinks.

Mr Horler managed to make repairs and was open again the next day.

The second attack involved windows being smashed and the cafe being ransacked.

It is due to reopen on Thursday.

"If we have another break-in that would be the final straw," said Mr Horler.

A statement from the council said: "We are disappointed to note once again the cafe has been the target of mindless vandals.

"We are working with the cafe operator to find a suitable solution to secure the property.

"Metal shutters would not be appropriate in a conservation area."

The Grade II listed park was set up in pre-Victorian times by the Smyth-Piggotts, who were major landowners in Weston and Bristol.

It is listed under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act.

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