Call for cafe – with loos – to be set up at Northdown Park

Northdown Park is a favourite place to go with Beau

A call is being made for a café or kiosk to be installed at Northdown Park in Margate.

Palm Bay dad-of-two Scott Manclark has created a petition asking Thanet council to work with a private operator to fund, open and run a cafe operation, ideally with some covered space.

It is hoped the café, which could also provide much-needed toilets in the park, could near the council Pavilion or the main play area.

He said: “Cafes in other parks in Thanet have been enormously successful. We also need toilet provision – something that could be part of the offering.”

‘Social isolation’

Reverend Stuart Gay, from St. Philip’s Church in Summerfield Road, says a café could help reduce anti-social behaviour incidents in the park.

He said: “It is a popular play area, in a part of town with very few recreational or social meeting spaces.

“I am a frequent visitor with my own children and it’s nice to see other parents meeting and chatting whilst their children play in a safe environment.

“in an area which suffers particularly high levels of social isolation amongst old and young alike, social and recreational spaces are priceless.

“One matter of concern over the years has been occasional antisocial behaviour. A minority of local teenagers can be intimidating towards unaccompanied children younger than themselves. I attribute this to the absence of any responsible adult at the site.

“It occurs to me that some type of cafe or small kiosk would increase the playground’s popularity with younger parents especially, but also provide a good weather space for older folk to meet, drink, eat and chat. It would provide somewhere parents could keep an eye on their children whilst meeting and sharing stories with other parents.

“It would make Northdown Park the sort of place that more people could look forward to visiting.

“There are actually two public buildings adjacent to the playground that could potentially provide the space required. Failing that, even a shipping container could be converted to provide the necessary secure space and provide utilities for such a venture to operate from.”

Scott with wife Donna and children Holly and Sophia

Scott was prompted to launch the petition after hearing Rev Gay’s idea, He said:  “Cafes in other parks in Thanet have been enormously successful. We also need toilet provision – something that could be part of the offering.”

A suggestion has also been made for a height barrier to be erected across the entrance to the car park area after caravans were parked up on the site recently.

Cliftonville East Councillor Barry Manners has written to officers at Thanet council asking that an upcoming review of council property assets look at how the authority might help secure a private partner to fund, set up and run a cafe in the park.

He said: “Northdown Park is immensely valuable to the local community. I fully support the idea of a cafe here. I believe it would be a valuable community asset for parents to get together whilst their children play in a safe environment.

“We should be clearing away simple logistical and legal hurdles to lay the groundwork for a private operator to fund and operate such as space.

“I have also written to the Labour Cabinet Member and await a response. It’s encouraging to see local residents stepping forward and asking for change. I’d like to see greater communication between park users, community groups and the council for this and all sorts of other improvements.”

View the petition here