Campaigners have been out in force in a bid to save a popular station cafe from closure.
Horsham’s Solo Caffe announced on Tuesday (July 10) it would be shutting up shop after nearly 20 years of serving customers in the town.
Members of the Horsham Labour Party and were outside the station just a few days before the announcement collecting signatures for a petition to help support the much-loved business.
The petition calls upon Southern Rail to change its business model and do everything in its power to ensure Solo Cafe can continue serving passengers.
Horsham Labour Party chair David Hide said: “The response from rail users has been overwhelming and our petition has more than 250 signatories in its first week. Solo cafe has been serving up reasonably priced teas, coffees and its much loved bacon roll to rail passengers for more than 20 years.”
In June, Southern Rail said the lease covering the two cafe units at Horsham station - in the ticket office and on platform 2 - were up in August and it was listening to offers.
Duncan Guthrie, who operates the family-run business, said he was sad to be closing adding: “While we were thinking about customer service others were thinking about profit and how much they could squeeze out of us. Something had to give.”
Mr Hide said that if Southern Rail’s ‘substantial increase in station leases went ahead family-run local businesses will be priced out and be replaced by faceless, nondescript chains’.
He added: “It is clear that the public are on the side of local business. Solo Cafe is a much loved and well used coffee shop and Southern Rail would be best advised to develop a business model that encourages family run local businesses, surely they could use some good PR for a change?”
So far nearly 100 people have signed the Labour Party’s online petition on top of more than 250 signatures gained outside the station by campaigners on Saturday (July 7).
In 2016 residents rallied to help the cafe after it was hit hard by the effects of a long-running rail strikes.
To view the petition visit https://www.change.org/p/southern-rail-ceo-save-horsham-station-solo-caf%C3%A9-from-closure?recruiter=33168190&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook_link&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page