Coffee shop saga stirs up council

By Grace Jones | posted on June 1, 2019

EFFORTS made by councillor Alison Goode to reconsider a controversial commercial lease for a coffee kiosk in the Albany Tourism and Information Hub were slammed by Council on Tuesday night with the motion voted down two to nine.

In August last year, barista Chris Saurin won the rat race to be named the preferred operator for the 14.25spm space (‘Coffee shop booked in’, 30 August 2018).

However during the November council meeting, Cr Rebecca Stephens, Cr Emma Doughty, Cr Bill Hollingworth, Cr Tracy Sleeman, Cr Robert Sutton and Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks voted to sink the proposal (‘Coffee shop canned’, 29 November 2018).

In the effort to bring the proposal back to the drawing board Cr Goode, who was notably absent to promote her motion, moved to reconsider the lease and request the proposal process for expressions of interest to be called again.

Mr Saurin fronted Council during question time to plead his case to have his proposed kiosk, Booked, reconsidered.

“There is still a considerable amount of interest in the kiosk,” he said.

“Many libraries across the state have coffee kiosks inside of them.

“Local operators that have claimed they will suffer a loss if the kiosk is approved, this has not been proven. They’ve clutched those numbers from the sky.

“The City of Albany is not paying for the fit out, I am.

“It’s a small space. You can’t swing a cat in there. It’s smaller than a disabled toilet.”

Mr Saurin also condemned cafe operators for being closed over the Easter long weekend and praised the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) for rescinding comments made in a submission to Council (‘Coffee shop quiz’, 15 November 2019).

“You can’t have customers if you’re closed,” he said.

Owner-operator of the Albany Sandwich Bar Stephanie Metcalf, whose business is directly located opposite the proposed site, spoke against the lease.

“Businesses are closing left, right and centre,” she pleaded.

“Do you want more unemployment? My five employees will lose their jobs, I’ve put my life savings into this business and my super.

“We’re facing the possibility that we will lose everything.

“This will be a kick in the guts for us.”

Owner operator of Poppies the Corner Store Jacqueline Daniel also spoke against the motion.

“We were open every day over Easter,” she said.

“This proposal will create an unfair playing field.

“I cannot draw a wage but I’m still paying yours in rates.

“Please don’t destroy mine, or other businesses.”

Councillors Paul Terry and Ray Hammond spoke in favor of opening discussions again on the lease.

“With the redevelopment of the Alison Hartman Gardens, a coffee kiosk would probably be the best use for the area,” Cr Terry said.

“We really need to look at this again.

“It’s not going into competition with other places. Businesses that think they are at risk with a kiosk opening, if you ran well you wouldn’t have an issue.”

Cr Stocks spoke against the motion and slammed the ACCI for not appearing at the council meeting after allegedly rescinding their comments made against the kiosk last year.

“The absence of the ACCI is pathetic,” he said.

“How can we have an industry council make comments like that six months ago and be absent tonight?

“They’re limp, lost and hapless.

“Good luck petitioning me for help in the future.”

Mayor Dennis Wellington, Cr Stephens, Cr Stocks, Cr Sutton, Cr Doughty, Cr Moir, Cr Hollingworth, Cr Sandie Smith and Cr John Shanhun voted against the motion.

Cr Terry and Cr Hammond voted for the motion.

Cr Doughty’s motion to take no further action on the lease until November 2019 following the completion of the gardens and a report compiled by the CEO on options for the site was supported nine to two with Cr Stocks and Cr Hollingworth against.