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Belsize Park cafe owner demands council compensation for motorbike bay pollution

Samir Chbat outside Violette Café, in Englands Lane, Belsize Park. Picture: Nigel Sutton. Samir Chbat outside Violette Café, in Englands Lane, Belsize Park. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Friday, November 15, 2013
3:00 PM

A café owner is demanding compensation from Camden Council after accusing parking bosses of driving away custom by installing a motorcycle bay directly in front of his business.

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Samir Chbat, who runs Violette Café, in England’s Lane, Belsize Park, was aghast when the council installed the parking space just a metre from his outdoor seating area in July.

He says nobody wants to sit there anymore because of the noise and bike fumes, which have also been wafting into the café.

“You cannot imagine this summer, you cannot imagine it at all,” said Mr Chbat, who has run Violette for 13 years. “It was very hot, the door was 
always open. I lost business because nobody was sitting outside because of the hot air, the noise and the smell and the smoke from the bikes.

“The smoke was travelling to the kitchen and I had to call the environmental health officer.”

Mr Chbat said the bay has even led to rows outside his café, when customers have asked bikers to switch off their engines, while some diners have left before finishing their meals and complained of dirt on their clothes.

He added: “To add salt to the wounds, the paparazzi with the motorbikes were in and out, chasing Kate Hudson, Helena Bonham Carter and all the celebrities.”

After months of complaining, he has finally received notice this week that the council is considering shifting the parking bay – but he says this will not make up for all his lost earnings.

“My business is damaged,” he said. “I’m fuming. While I pay to have tables outside, I pay business rates, my business goes down. I want compensation to make it up to me.”

Cllr Phil Jones, cabinet member for sustainability, transport and planning, said there were no objections when the council proposed installing the bay in July.

Following complaints from the café, Camden Council is now consulting on moving the bay away from Violette.

“We will assess any claims for compensation through our standard procedures,” added Cllr Jones.

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