Worries over late licence for cafe

RESIDENTS in Felixstowe town centre have voiced strong concerns after owners of a new Mediterranean-style café asked for a drinks licence until 3am daily.

RESIDENTS in Felixstowe town centre have voiced strong concerns after owners of a new Mediterranean-style café asked for a drinks licence until 3am daily.

Householders are writing letters of objection and signing a protest petition, fearing hordes of late-night revellers could bring noise, rowdy behaviour and vandalism to the peaceful area.

But restaurateur Tim Yeo has reassured families worried about his new continental Café Bencotto - due to open later this summer - that the early hours licence will be rarely used.

Mr Yeo has met with leaders of the residents' campaign Gloria Rawson and Sally Conti.

Mrs Rawson, of Gainsborough Road, said: “We are not against a lovely new café or pizza and pasta restaurant which is attracting families with a family atmosphere - that is what Mediterranean eating places do.

“But we cannot see why it needs to open until 3am at all.

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“All the streets around the town centre are residential and Hamilton Road is like a ghost town in the evenings - there are no pubs or late-opening places in the town centre.

“We are worried this will all change if the venue opens until the early hours and has amplified acoustic music inside and out.

“People already suffer problems with anti-social behaviour sometimes without extra worry of criminal damage, shop windows being put in, people being sick in doorways, shrieking goodbye and slamming car doors before they roar off, disturbing the whole area.”

They have leafleted the Gainsborough Road, Ranelagh Road and York Road area and said people of all ages were very concerned.

Mr Yeo said the restaurant would rarely stay open until the early hours - if ever. However, the new licensing laws meant licensees had to think ahead and apply for any hours they might ever need in order to maintain flexibility in the years ahead.

“The reality is we will probably open until 11pm during the week and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. But if New Year's Eve falls on a Monday, for example, we may want to stay open until 1am or 1.30am, or there may be the occasional party or wedding that doesn't end until that time,” he said.

Mr Yeo, who owns The Alex at Felixstowe, bought the Bencotto Steak House last year after it closed and is carrying out a major refurbishment project on the property, which was originally the Felixstowe Fire Station.

The aim is to create a restaurant where the emphasis is on food more than drink and which would be an asset to the town centre.

Suffolk Coastal's licensing committee is likely to decide the matter next month.

Are you worried about the new Café Bencotto? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk