Prison cafe anger

Kirkham Prison wants to open its cafe to the public at certain times of the day.
Kirkham Prison wants to open its cafe to the public at certain times of the day.
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Traders today hit out at plans to allow the public to use a cafe – inside the Fylde’s jail.

Kirkham’s Business Group believe the unique idea at the town’s open prison would damage local trade.

Prison bosses want to open its cafe to the public on weekday mornings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The plans will go before Fylde Council’s planning committee next week.

The cafe is currently used by prison staff and visitors.

The plans are recommended for approval, but Fylde councillor Elaine Silverwood (below) – who chairs the business group and runs coffee and bookshop SilverDell – said: “The whole point is if people stop coming in to me then they don’t go across the road to the shops, they don’t go to the health shop and they stop using the high street.

“That’s the crucial part - it won’t just affect the like for like businesses it affects the high street full stop.

“It’s out of town and we object strongly to that and always have.”

The town council has also objected to the plans on the grounds it could drive trade away from Kirkham town centre.

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Coun Liz Oades said: “When people come into Kirkham they pop into other shops so it’s going to have an impact on our shops in the town centre. We’re in the middle of a recession and shops are struggling anyway.

“I think it’s unacceptable.

“We work very closely with the prison and we’re very thankful for the help we get from the prisoners but on this occasion the town council can’t support the application.”

The prison currently has a shop which sells wooden goods, such as fencing panels, and it is open to members of the public.

However, Coun Oades said it did not offer direct competition to any of the businesses on Kirkham high street.

A report due to go before Fylde Council’s planning meeting states: “It is considered the proposal would not have any detrimental impact upon the local community.

“It is considered the cafe is such a small-scale operation it will not significantly affect trade in nearby Kirkham town centre and so is an acceptable development.”

The cafe would have six tables and would be open Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm and Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 3.30pm.

The application will be decided at next Wednesday’s development management committee meeting at 10am in St Annes Town Hall.