Row erupts as Wood Bar set to leave Victoria Park in Salisbury

A ROW has erupted over the future of a popular Salisbury cafe.

The Wood Bar, which has been running the concession in Victoria Park in April 2021, has been told it will no longer be running the facility from next month.

Salisbury City Council turned down The Wood Bar’s application to trade at the concession for the next three years.

The council said it has agreed the concession with ‘another trader’ and that the decision came after The Wood Bar indicated it did not wish to pursue a three-year contract during correspondence in January, a claim disputed by the owners.

In an emotional post on Facebook, The Wood Bar said it was ‘upset and outraged’.

“We took an empty disused building in Victoria Park and transformed it into the beating heart of the park and created a community which we will hugely miss,” it added.

It went on: “Despite spending considerable amounts of money on the site and staying open throughout the winter months, providing a much needed space for the community, the council (is) booting us out without reason.

“Over the last few months Salisbury (City) Council (has) been directly contacting other cafe businesses, encouraging them to apply for our current site.

“This is following the council using our pictures to advertise the park location to other potential businesses. Appalling behaviour.

“We are absolutely appalled at Salisbury City Council, we have been an ideal tenant always paying our rent on time. Salisbury City Council has just hugely damaged a local independent business and put multiple jobs at risk.”

The council said The Wood Bar was made aware in September 2022 the concession would be for a three-year period from 2023 onwards.

“In February 2023, the Wood Bar told the council they did not want a three-year concession. Therefore, the concession opportunity was advertised more widely. More than one application has been received for this concession,” a spokesperson said.

“The council has agreed the concession with another trader. This applicant is proposing a more favourable arrangement, albeit at the basic same fee.

“They are proposing to enhance the site and engage with the local community more actively. They will start trading before summer.

“The council understands The Wood Bar is disappointed by this decision. It is regrettable that officers of the council had been unfairly accused of unprofessional behaviour on social media. These accusations are entirely unfounded. The council has a zero-tolerance policy toward bullying and harassment.”

The Wood Bar responded, claiming it wrote to the council after a break-in in January 2023 requested discussions over a shorter-term lease.

“Without replying to us, the following day Salisbury (City) Council changed the process without notice from a tender opportunity to a lease application process, advertising our site publicly, using our pictures and using wording in the lease document to imply we’d left or were leaving,” they said.

They added: “We had not expressed intentions to leave at this point and were simply negotiating a shorter lease.”

The Wood Bar confirmed it had gone on to submit an application for the full three-year concession, but had missed out.

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