Petition set up to save Mel’s Cafe on A1, near Stretton, from closure

Mel Weston at her cafe on the A1 near Stamford EMN-160504-182642009
Mel Weston at her cafe on the A1 near Stamford EMN-160504-182642009

A woman has set up a petition to try and save her roadside cafe after she was advised she would lose her licence.

Melanie Weston, who lives in Tinwell, has been running the distinctive bright pink cafe in a layby on the southbound carriageway of the A1, near Woolfox depot in the parish of Stretton, for the last five years.

She says she’s worked hard to build up the business, which is turning a healthy profit and has been in the same location for the last 33 years.

But Mel has been advised that when her street trading licence expires on April 20, it will not be renewed because of flooding at the site.

Mel says the flooding issues have previously been inspected by Highways England, which is responsible for the A1, and that it is not down to her cafe.

Mel, a single mother-of-three, said: “I’ve put my heart and soul into this business and I stand to lose everything.”

Mel has been advised that she needs to move the cafe so that Highways England can inspect the storm drainage.

But Mel says she cannot do this as it is a 32ft stainless steel cabin, which seats 20 people. She said when the site was previously inspected a year ago, the cabin was not moved.

Mel added: “It’s not the cafe that’s the problem, it’s the water that’s falling from the sky - there’s too much of it.

“It’s always flooded for as long as I’ve been there. I don’t understand why it’s a problem now.”

She set up a petition last week as soon as she became aware of the issue and has already collected 700 signatures. She says her customers, who come from across the country for good quality home-cooked food, are furious to hear that the business could be forced to close.

Mel employs a full-time member of staff at Mel’s Cafe and says that the closure would also result in a loss of income to Rutland County Council, which charges fees for licensing.

A spokesman for Highways England said: “We are aware of flooding issues at the site, caused by inaccessibility to the drainage system as a result of the location of this cafe.

“Safety is our number one priority and it is essential that in order to conduct repair and maintenance work, Highways England can access the drainage system.

“We are due to meet with the owner of the business to discuss the matter further.”

A spokesman for Rutland County Council added: “Highways England has advised us that the street trading licence for Mel’s Cafe should not be renewed because its location is preventing exploratory work to address the issue of persistent flooding in the layby.

“The council is working with those involved and has arranged a meeting between both parties to try and find a solution.”