1493791423366 - Skate rink in stoush with council over cafe

Skate rink in stoush with council over cafe

The future of a long-established skating rink is under threat over its sale of coffee and cake to the public.

The New Plymouth Roller Sports Club has a cafe at its East End skating complex and under the terms of its lease its operators can only serve food and drink to club members and club visitors. 

But the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) has alleged the cafe is open to the general public, a commercial activity which puts it in breach of their sports club lease.

The council has issued two letters to the club stating they are looking at revoking the club’s lease agreement because of the breach but also because the operation puts the council in breach of their own agreement with nearby cafe Paris Plage. 

The business zone at the western end of the seaside reserve allows for one food business, operating for 10 months each year, and this lease is held by French bakery Petit Paris, which operate the extremely popular Paris Plage. 

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Roller Sports Club president David Carrington said the rink had been there for 30 years and refuted the cafe meant it had changed from a non-profit organisation to a commercial entity.

“Which is ridiculous,” he said.

The NPDC had sent two letters to the club stating it was looking to revoke the lease, Carrington said.

“They’re looking to put in a motion to council to have the lease withdrawn and for the role of the sportsclub to be removed from the reserve,” he said.

NPDC spokesman Peter Handcock said when an organisation continued to breach its contract the only option was to consider terminating the lease.

It was the cafe trading with the public, not the roller sports club, that was the problem Handcock said.

However, the council’s contract was with the club, and the club was responsible for ensuring it was not in breach of its lease, he said.

Handcock said the lease agreement was at a reduced price because the club was a not for profit and one of its lease terms was that there was no commercial operation on the site.

Last year the club was granted a food licence to operate for the benefit of club members and visitors.

Handcock said the club was reminded at the time it could not sell or advertise to the general public as if it was a commercial operation.

But because it had, the club had been asked to remove any public advertising of the cafe, including signs outside the building and online publicity, and to close the cafe’s external entrance.

“Club members and visitors can still access the cafe from within the building,” Handcock said.

But Carrington said the club couldn’t be sure if or how often the cafe was used by the general public.

“We don’t have any details of how many people come in from the outside,” he said.

The cafe had been in a operation for about 15 years but in the past was only opened on a voluntary basis.

The club had recently contracted people to open it weekly, Carrington said.

“Because we were opening more often we merely went to council to obtain a food licence to ensure we were doing things right.”

He said the cafe’s revenue would go towards developing and maintaining the facility.

Carrington hoped the cafe could remain open but said it was a complicated matter with a lot to consider, including whether the complex would have to be removed if the lease was withdrawn.

“We’ve not been provided with any options by council we’ve merely been threatened the lease would be revoked and we’d be kicked off the reserve.”

Carrington said the club’s committee had scheduled a meeting with New Plymouth District mayor Neil Holdom next week to further discuss the matter.

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