Café Nero, it’s more than a coffee shop closure

The demise of another victim of the COVID19 pandemic occurred last week, with the sudden closure of Café Nero coffee shop in West Street, Havant.

The Café Nero chain has been trying to refinance their business and unfortunately, this town’s branch was one of the casualties in this restructuring.

I think it’s very sad, especially as it was more than a coffee shop for many. It was an office, a meeting place, a venue where a published author could be seen writing her books, and of course, a political meeting place for some of our ward councillors too.

It served the community as an inclusive gathering place to meet for young and old alike, serving quality coffee and take out food for students and workers on the move, as well as residents. It was child and dog friendly, and had excellent customer focused staff. You could listen to Bach, pop or jazz through the piped music when playing, which reflected the range of ages and people frequenting this social hub.

It certainly gave residents a sense of identity and place where Havant was concerned, and they had some pride in having a Café Nero in their town.

I am especially sorry to see it go, because I was one of the original group of people to show Cafe Nero staff around Havant and get them interested in that particular retail unit. It’s an excellent location opposite St. Faiths Church and I hope a similar type of commercial business may be able to operate there in the post pandemic future.

Losing shops, cafés, banks or libraries is like losing the public realm of a town, they are our cafés, our banks, our shops, and we feel a loss.

If this COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that community is vital to our social, physical and mental health. We must envisage a better town centre with a new mix of commercial and public enterprises, well-maintained public realm and green spaces, and safe places to gather.

It is in our hands to achieve this goal, if we collectively push for a sustainable vision of the Havant town centre that we all wish to see in the future.

Peter Hammond

P.S. For a little rather more cheerful news, we’re pleased to see scaffolding enveloping the former Streets building in East Street, and work on refurbishing the roof making good progress.

#rethinkhavant

Litter vandals are on the loose in Havant Town Centre!

On most days, purple bags of litter are stacked for collection by Norse, Havant Borough Council’s operations management organisation. Sometimes up to twenty bags are stacked against the Bulbeck Wall, near Santander Bank, often left overnight.

Regularly, paper, food and other detritus of all sorts, is strewn across the grass verge, pavement and road.

In the Summer months at least it is contained nearer to the bags, but come Autumn and Winter and early Spring, the wind blows this rubbish across the road, into Homewell, a Conservation area, and it looks a mess.

Who are these litter vandals tearing the bags open and spilling the contents out in this way?  AA2_3474They are none other than herring gulls, with the support of the black headed gulls if they can get a look in.

The herring gulls were never seen in this area in the recent past, but now thanks to this logistical decision for the collection of the town centre litter, they are permanent residents in the area.

However the real culprit who has created this litter problem, the Mr Big behind the vandal gulls activities, is Norse, to whom Havant Borough Council has outsourced waste management and street cleaning.

Sometimes this mess is a health hazard, other times just a mess, but a better, more efficient method of storing the bags, ready for collection should be devised by Norse to deter the gulls and contain the bags in an aesthetically pleasing way in the town centre.

The bags are next to the town centre multi-storey car park, where visitors and workers arrive every day. What a visual welcome is arranged for them all?

Residents want to feel proud of where they live, and the local authority has a duty to implement a policy to improve the economy and well-being of the town, rather than allowing their agent to detrimentally affect this important aim.

Perhaps the Ward Councillors should take to regularly monitoring the situation at different times of the year, or request a better way to deal with the vitally important collection of town centre litter. It would certainly gain approval from the residents.

But then again, we could ask the Havant Borough Council Civil Enforcement Officers to issue litter fines to the organisation behind the litter problem. Now that would be interesting.

Homewell Spring

Thanks to Volunteers who cleared the Spring of some of the weeds recently, a spring widely believed to be the reason why the settlement that eventually became Havant, exists.

Now we need some funding to replace security timbers and repoint the stone walls. Another HCS project?