Over 2,700 people sign petition to keep popular Ivinghoe café Curiositea Rooms open

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Curiositea Rooms is now facing closure after its landlords failed to renew its lease

A petition set up to save one of Ivinghoe's best-loved cafés from closure has already got over 2,700 signatures.

The petition was set up after a local resident heard that Curiositea Rooms in Ivinghoe faces closure, after trustees of landlord the Old School Community Hub voted against renewing its lease at its annual general meeting.

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The trustees say they intend to continue operating a café from the premises.

Curiositea Rooms is now facing closure after its landlords failed to renew its lease (C) Google MapsCuriositea Rooms is now facing closure after its landlords failed to renew its lease (C) Google Maps
Curiositea Rooms is now facing closure after its landlords failed to renew its lease (C) Google Maps

The popular meeting spot has been run from the premises since 2013 by Hayley Wesley and Sven Tonks, who won praise from the community by delivering 83 school lunch parcels a day to local families throughout both lockdowns.

Gemma, from Pitstone, started the petition after discovering the business’s future was under threat.

She said: “Hayley and Sven have done everything they can for our community and for the local area; making charitable donations, helping out with events and supplying lunches to children who were struggling when Covid hit and the schools had to shut.

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"They also do a free afternoon tea for the over 65s - this is all out of their own pocket, because that's just the sort of people they are.

"They are such a friendly couple who think about others and never themselves

“The café is such a friendly and welcoming place and the food and drinks are amazing, and with the park next door, it's perfect for families.

"Hayley and Seven work so hard, they have made us as a community come together. They have worked really hard over the years building it up to what it is now.

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"I want to make the trustees see sense, the tea room café is what the community wants. We do not want a community café, run by volunteers, will they even be able to get volunteers to run it?"

She added: "Sven and Hayley are why people love the café, it will not be the same without them.

"I think there are other ways to make improvements without getting rid of the tea rooms and I think it would be great if they could all sit down and discuss ideas.

"It’s time for us to give back and to help them like they have helped us over the years.

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"We need as many signatures as we possibly can to change the mind of these trustees and to show them what a great loss the café will be.”

Sven, who runs Curiositea Rooms with Hayley, said: "It has been a growing process, I was just thinking that we got through one of the hardest tests we have ever had, with the Covid-19 pandemic, and then we get hit with this. I can't believe it to be honest.

"We got the letter through the door from the solicitor on Thursday morning to say they would not be renewing the lease.

"I am deflated, angry, upset and hurt, we both are.

"It is hard work and we have spent years building the café up.

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"We were asked to run it as a café for the community, and I think that is what we have done, I don't think we could have done much more.

"It is a hard job, we are in our 40s and it takes a lot to run it, it's not a nine till five job, you have the stock orders, the rotas, the staff wages, there's a lot to think about.

"The response has been amazing, people who do not even come to the café but live in the village have even been supporting the petition.

"One guy came up to me, and he is a coffee connoisseur, and he said we have awful coffee but he does not want to lose us from the village. And I loved his honesty!"

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He added: "To reach 2,500 signatures for a small café, in a small village, in just a few days is amazing, and we are overwhelmed by the support."

A spokesperson for the trustees of the Ivinghoe Old School Community Hub said: "We would like to thank everyone for the feedback provided.

"The hub trustees do not propose to run a village shop as some have suggested, and will most definitely continue operating a café in these premises.

"We have decided not to renew the current commercial lease in order to ensure the hub café is run in a way which allows us to direct a maximum of funds back into the community we support."

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They also posted a statement on the Ivinghoe Old School Community Hub website.

The petition was set up on Friday and already has 2,750 signatures (correct on September 28).

Signatory Catharine Shuttleworth commented: “This café has brought so much community spirit to our village and so many people use this to meet up, chat, eat, and most importantly have somewhere to take your kids.

“Sven and Hayley have worked so hard over eight years bringing local employment to 23 people, delivering food packages to hundreds of children during covid, supporting local sports clubs and individuals, winning two awards for the service they provide.”