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Whopping rent rise forces Portsmouth community café to close down

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PENSIONERS are outraged that a community café has been forced to shut up shop due to a massive rent rise.

More than 100 people have signed a petition to save Selina’s Café, which operated in the Paulsgrove Healthy Living Centre until February 17.

Selina Anderson, 55, of Harting Gardens in Portchester, had to close her café when the NHS Property Trust raised her rent from about £1,000 a year to £4,960.

Selina said she was shocked when she found out about the increase.

She said: ‘It wasn’t there to make profit, it was more of a service.

‘I know they all loved coming up here and I loved seeing them come in.’

The café had not previously had a rate rise since the centre opened six years ago.

Selina used to pay £5 rent Monday to Friday, and none when the café was closed due to breaks and bank holidays.

Selina’s supporters hope the petition will force the NHS to reconsider the increase.

The café offered roast dinners for £4 and was especially popular with pensioners, but also attracted many NHS workers and patients.

Former customer Sylvia Pettitt, 75, said: ‘I’m on my own and the café used to get me out and seeing other people.

‘It’s really sad that it’s closed, now I’ve got nothing to look forward to.’

Peter Davis, 75, said the café would be sorely missed.

He said: ‘With the state the country is in now nobody needs a hike of this proportion.

‘The food was always brilliant and the café was always spotless.’

Former café volunteer Eileen New, 84, said: ‘It was a happy atmosphere in there and now the customers have nowhere else to go.’

An NHS Property Services spokesperson said the centre was transferred to their administration last April as part of the government’s health reorganisation.

The spokesperson said: ‘We inherited properties and contracts previously operated by Primary Care Trusts.

‘In this case it appears there was an informal occupancy arrangement.

‘We are making further inquiries into the concerns raised here so that this can be resolved as soon as possible in conjunction with local NHS partners.’

But Selina doubts a new café could work.

‘I don’t know how anyone else could afford it,’ she said.

 

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