Bulldozers move in to remove cafe

WHEN Andy Mexome bought Felixstowe's Shore Break Café five years ago, it was days like yesterday he dreamed of.With the sun beating down and holidaymakers out in force, it was just as he imagined it would be, with a string of people ready to snap up the teas and ice creams on offer.

WHEN Andy Mexome bought Felixstowe's Shore Break Café five years ago, it was days like yesterday he dreamed of.

With the sun beating down and holidaymakers out in force, it was just as he imagined it would be, with a string of people ready to snap up the teas and ice creams on offer.

But yesterday, as the bulldozers prepared to move in, it was time to say goodbye to his much-loved retreat, enjoyed by visitors to the seaside town for 15 years.

It was forced to close down last month after the constant battering of waves damaged the sea wall and promenade close to the café.


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For Mr Mexome, who had the task of emptying his possessions from the precariously-placed building, it was a sad farewell.

”It's just a bitter pill really, especially on a day like this,” he said.

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“We do 80% of our business in three months of the year, starting about two weeks ago. We would've been absolutely flying today. It's a shame and it rubs salt in the wound that it's being closed now.

“It's incredibly sad as it's a huge loss - and not just for me.”

Shirley Ainsley, of Dawson Drive, Trimley St Mary, worked at the café on Mondays and Fridays for two-and-a-half years.

She said: “I feel a bit emotional. It's just a sad day really. I've got another part-time job but you get attached to the place and your customers.

“With a day like this, sitting on the balcony was like being abroad. We would do a roaring trade. The place would've been heaving.”

Crowds of people gathered in expectation of seeing demolition of the building start yesterday afternoon.

Karen Hanson-Wilby, 46, travelled from Wickham Market to witness the event.

“I heard about it and wanted to see if for myself,” she said. “We know it's been crumbling for a long while but it's sad to see it go.”

Also among the onlookers were Sharon Pears, 42, of Felixstowe, and Clare Dowsett, 30, of Walton.

Ms Pears said: “It's a shame it's going but I'm going to lose a lot of weight because I won't be having my breakfast there.

“We used to take the children there in the summer for ice creams and cups of tea. It will be missed.”

Ms Dowsett added: “It was a brilliant place. I used to work along the seafront and the café was always packed in the summer.”

Despite the eager anticipation of the hundred or so strong crowd who had gathered in the area, a number of delays meant the dismantling of the structure could not begin last night, although it is expected to be carried out over the weekend.

A compensation deal was agreed between Suffolk Coastal District Council and Mr Mexome on Thursday but the money, believed to be a five-figure sum, was not transferred to Mr Mexome until just before the close of business yesterday.

Only when the cash arrived in his account did Mr Mexome agree to hand over the keys to the property.

Andy Smith, deputy leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, confirmed an agreement had been reached.

He said: “I cannot go into details about the compensation package as it is confidential but I am pleased that Mr Mexome has accepted it. It means that we are both able to avoid the potentially long-winded and expensive route of going to the courts which might have meant serious delays for our vital works.”

Boulders have been move on to the shoreline to bolster the sea defences, which have resulted in a large crack developing in the promenade, forcing its closure to the public.

The district council is hoping to secure a £5million government grant to help pay for a £10million scheme to bolster the sea defences.

Shore Break café facts

The café was closed down by the council on May 24 after damage to the sea wall and the promenade.

Mr Mexome was initially given until June 2 to remove the structure, a deadline that was extended twice until yesterday.

Work to remove the building is now expected to be carried out over the weekend.

Once dismantled, the council will continue the task of putting nearly 3,000 tonnes of rock along a 400 metre stretch of the sea wall.

The council continues to seek funding for a more permanent solution to hold the back the raging waves.

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