Popular Peterborough roadside cafe has pitch revoked by council
A popular mobile cafe in Peterborough will be forced out of its pitch because of city councillors’ concerns over a dispute between the owners and a neighbouring business.
The Licensing Committee of Peterborough City Council has revoked the street trading consent for a roadside catering unit following complaints.
Roundabout Café has been selling food at Wainman Road, Woodston for the last eight years, but street trading has taken place on the same pitch for at least thirty years.
Speaking to committee members at their meeting (September 1), Gareth Brighton, Licensing and Business Manager said: “There is a history of complaints received by Peterborough City Council and the Police from both the catering unit and nearby businesses.
“Over some time, the relationship between the owners of the catering unit and the automotive servicing unit and other businesses has broken down and now appears to be irretrievable.
“These complaints have steadily increased in frequency with over 50 being received in 2021 alone.
“Concern is that the incidents are escalating in seriousness as evidenced in both the Police and Peterborough City Council incident logs with allegations of harassment, intimidation and common assault being reported.
“There is clearly a need for action in order to prevent a serious incident and/or serious harm from occurring.
“In light of the above, and considering the amount of resources that both Peterborough City Council and the Police have invested, and continue to invest in the matter, it is apparent that the current situation has become unsustainable and a permanent solution is required.”
Roundabout Café is the latest of a long line of street traders selling food at the same pitch on Wainman Road.
The council’s records only go back 16 years, but street vending of food has been taking place on the same pitch for at least thirty years.
Mr Brighton added: “Roundabout Café is a mobile catering unit owned and operated by Mr Sebahattin ‘Sam’ and Mrs Ayseglil Mutlu.
“They trade from a consented static pitch within the turning head in Wainman Road, Woodston, with their catering unit towed to the site at the beginning of the trading day and removed from the site once the days’ trading has concluded.
“Wainman Road is situated within a low-rise industrial trading estate located approximately 2.5 miles from the city centre, and is an area of relatively heavy traffic with the catering unit and neighbouring auto repair business attracting vehicles from outside of the trading estate.
“There are several parking spaces available within the turning head which, when in use, still allow vehicles to safely turn around in the turning head as intended. The parking spaces are not marked out or designated and there are no parking restrictions in operation; and this would appear to be at the heart of the issues between the owners of the catering unit and the operators of the automotive repair business.
“Frank’s Automotive Services is owned by Mr Frank Dilustro who has traded from the same building for twenty years or more.
“When Mr and Mrs Mutlu took over the pitch eight years ago and set-up Roundabout Café, the relationship with Mr Dilustro was cordial, extending to his providing the catering unit with water and electricity. However, over time, there have been ongoing issues relating to parking that has caused the relationship between Mr and Mrs Mutlu and Mr Dilustro to break down completely.
“The result of which is a steady increase in calls to both the Police and Peterborough City Council in relation to incidents and behaviour that stem primarily from the issue of parking and double parking in and around the turning head.
“For every allegation from one party, there is an equal and opposite allegation from the other.
“Therefore, the decision for the members this evening is whether to entirely revoke the street trading consent for the pitch on Wainman Road, defusing this volatile situation between Mr Dilustro and Mr and Mrs Mutlu before it gets any worse than it already is.
“The council is aware of the historic background to food vending on this site over the last thirty years or more, but feel this is the only logical solution to the matter at hand.
“If members agree to the removal of the street trading consent, no future license would be issued for that site.
“The council has several pitches in similar locations to offer Mr and Mrs Mutlu as alternatives for Roundabout Café to continue trading, the nearest of which is less than half a mile from where they currently are.”
Mr and Mrs Mutlu, aided by their Turkish translator, appealed to the council to allow them to retain their street trading consent at Wainman Road, arguing that 80 per cent of their trade walk to their catering unit.
Mr Mutlu said: “We have very loyal customers who we feed wonderful food to every day on this site. If we are forced to leave, they will not walk half a mile to get food from us – it will be the end of the business for us, destroyed by the licensing committee.”
After considerable deliberation, Chair, Cllr Scott Warren said: “We are concerned with the escalation in levels of aggressive behaviour from all parties who trade at the site on Wainman Road.
“There has been a clear breakdown in the relationship between Mr and Mrs Mutlu and the other traders, and we do not believe that any form of mediation will resolve the matter given the position adopted by the parties.
“We are concerned with public safety issues and we do not believe that this site is now suitable for such a trade given the traffic issues and attitude by the parties towards one another.
“Noting that alternative sites have been offered to Roundabout Café nearby, the committee has determined that the street trading consent for this pitch be revoked with immediate effect.”
Speaking immediately after the meeting Mr Mutlu said: “We are very disappointed with the committee’s decision.
“We will not be accepting the offer from the council to move to another site as our customers are loyal and will not follow us there.
“The licensing committee has destroyed a family business today and I hope they are pleased with what they have done.”
Mr Dilustro of Frank’s Automotive Services did not attend the meeting.