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Victory for people power as families to stay in Hampstead Heath cafés

PUBLISHED: 17:51 15 May 2017 | UPDATED: 17:58 15 May 2017

Alberto D'Auria held a party to thank supporters at the Parliament Hill Cafe after Benugo pulled out last summer.

Alberto D'Auria held a party to thank supporters at the Parliament Hill Cafe after Benugo pulled out last summer.

Archant

Heath bosses have officially agreed a new three-year contract for the Parliament Hill café, after the public revolted against multi-million pound chain Benugo taking over.

Alberto D'Auria and supporters delivered their petition to the City of London Corporation last year. Alberto D'Auria and supporters delivered their petition to the City of London Corporation last year.

In a resounding triumph for campaigners, Heath bosses have officially agreed a new three-year lease for the family that have run the Parliament Hill café for 34 years.

More than 24,000 people signed a petition last summer after the Ham&High revealed that the D’Auria family was to lose out on a lease extension to Benugo, without any consultation.

Benugo went on to withdraw their tender, in the face of overwhelming public opposition, and the Corporation of London, which runs Hampstead Heath, agreed to restart the tendering process.

The Hampstead Heath committee gave chief superintendent Bob Warnock the go-ahead to grant a new lease at a meeting this afternoon.

The committee also decided to agree a new lease for the Golders Hill Park café to the Pazienti family, who have run it for 43 years.

The key decisions follow months of consultation with Heath walkers by the Corporation, who had also set up a cafe working party, with more than 2,000 people replying to an online questionnaire.

Mr Warnock said: “A lot of work has gone into this. This is essentially the output from the café working party.”

Responding to a concern that there might be a big rent hike for the café owners, Mr Warnock reassured the committee that the Corporation wanted the cafés to be able to invest in their services for the community.

The new three year leases will start in 2018.

When the Ham&High told Alberto D’Auria, 71, this afternoon that the café had been granted another three years, he said: “That’s really good news – that’s great, lovely. I will talk to my son, he will be very happy.”

“The plan for the future is to improve, my son has lots of ideas. Thank you very much for supporting us.”

The Corporation has also agreed a separate short-term lease for the Parliament Hill Lido café, until January 12, 2018.

Hoxton Beach, who have run the café at London Fields Lido in Hackney since 2008, announced that they were the new operators.

Their first day trading was Saturday, coinciding with the annual swimmers’ group event to mark the start of the new Lido Summer season.

Hoxton Beach is run by Patrick Matthews and Emma Fernandez who live just off Queens Crescent and are Lido regulars.

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