Axed staff buy their business

Jacqui, Anne and Melanie celebrate in their new uniforms as they prepare to re-launch 'JAM'

Jacqui, Anne and Melanie celebrate in their new uniforms as they prepare to re-launch 'JAM'

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CIVIL servants made redundant by Blackpool Council from their catering jobs have stepped in to run their former canteen as a private business.

Jacqui Latham, 47, Anne Hayton, 51, and Melanie Arkwell, 43, all from Blackpool, liked the Rest-Bite Café so much they bought the company!

The cafe is the canteen service for staff at the council’s Progress House offices.

Redundancy has turned the three into entrepreneurs responsible for their own business as the ladies have been awarded a contract to run the service themselves with the help of a grant from the Council.

Jacqui said: “To find out we were going to lose our jobs was absolutely devastating. We loved working at Rest-Bite and there was nothing about our role we didn’t enjoy.”

The Council announced it would be reducing up to 750 posts across departments as part of cost-cutting measures. At the same time it announced a fund of £50,000 for those staff who wanted to take over running some services themselves and offered advice and support through its Get Started team.

Now, JAM café has opened its doors to customers old and new with a brand new identity. The name comes from the three women’s initials and is complete with a new Strawberry logo designed by Melanie. She said: “We can’t tell you how grateful we are to have received this opportunity to save the service and the help we’ve had from our colleagues in the business start-up team has been unbelievable.”

Peter Legg, head of enterprise and employment at the Council, offered his team’s assistance to the trio, enabling them to submit a successful business proposal. He said: “It’s fantastic news we’ve been able to save a much-loved and long-serving service from permanent closure. They are not frightened of asking for support which is a must for business.”