“Hands off our tea room” campaigners fight to save cafe at Anglers Country Park

More than 1000 people have signed a petition objecting to the closure of the cafe at Anglers Country Park.
More than 1000 people have signed a petition objecting to the closure of the cafe at Anglers Country Park.

“Hands off the cafe” was the defiant message from campaigners who are fighting to save a facility at Anglers Country Park from closing.

Wakefield Council plans to shut Squire’s Tea Room in May and replace it with new seating and picnic areas and sheltered dining facilities.

Campaigners launched a petition objecting to the plans, which has been signed by more than 1,000 people.

Around 130 campaigners gathered outside the cafe on Tuesday to protest against the closure. They were carrying signs which read “hands off the cafe” and “save our cafe”.

John Matthews, of Spring Hill Drive, Crofton, regularly visits the cafe with members of the Pontefract Cycling Club and Wakefield Cycling Forum.

The 71-year-old said: “We only found out when the cafe owner told us that the council would not be renewing the lease. It could close by May.

“I understand the council is having to cut services like libraries but the cafe makes a lot of income for them.

“It is like David and Goliath and they do what they want. It feels like we have no voice.”

The country park in Wintersett is a popular attraction for walkers, cycling clubs and birdwatchers.

Families can go on a Room on the Broom themed walk, based on the bestselling children’s picture book by Julia Donaldson, and feed the wildlife around the lake.

Visitors can also walk along a two mile route around the lake or on the Waterton Trail, which goes through the park.

Mr Matthews said the cafe, which is open seven days a week, is visited by people from across Yorkshire.

He said: “It is used by road clubs, groups of mountain bikers and it is frequently populated by large numbers of walkers out for a bit of exercise in the fresh air.

“It is also used by groups of people with learning difficulties. It would be such a shame if the cafe does close.”

Glynn Humphries, the council’s service director for environment and streetscene said: “We are proposing to close the current café facilities at Anglers Country Park in 2016.

“We want to reassure residents that new and improved facilities will then be provided which will include a larger choice of refreshments, a better seating and picnic area and sheltered dining areas.

“We hope that visitors to the park will benefit from these improvements and it can continue to be used by local cycle and walking groups.”