‘It’s a beautiful place – but who wants to walk around in sewage?’
Never-ending nightmare for tenant Izzet Yilmaz as wait for Cowey Sale café goes on and on and on...
THE Cowey Sale café is still plagued with problems, rendering it unable to function three years after Walton Bridge opened, leaving its new tenant upset and angry.
Izzet Yilmaz, who has been running the mobile Café Gino from the car park at Cowey Sale for seven years, has been ready and waiting to move into the new building for three years.
The biggest issue stopping the move for Mr Yilmaz, who has signed a lease, is that public toilets in the building often flood, sending a stream of water and even sewage into the café.
The building was passed from Surrey County Council to Elmbridge Borough Council more than a year ago but there were outstanding issues to be dealt with by the contractor before Mr Yilmaz could begin fitting out.
Now he has spent more than £20,000 on kitchen equipment which lies unused – with just six months left on its warranty – because he still cannot open his café.
Mr Yilmaz said: “Honestly, I am really upset and angry. I have been three years, dealing with it – imagine.
“The councils pass questions to each other daily and nothing improves.”
Consultant engineer Michael Pattemore, acting on Mr Yilmaz’s behalf, said the wrong pumping system was used for the toilets.
The toilets flooded on the afternoon of Sunday May 29 and on bank holiday Monday the main water pipes flooded, spilling into the café.
Mr Pattemore said: “It’s a beautiful place but who wants to walk around in sewage?” He added: “There have been accusations that it’s Café Gino’s fault it’s been delayed.
“It’s nothing to do with him. It’s to do with the original building construction.
“It has never been fit for purpose.”
Mr Pattemore said the café could lose its licence if it opened with faulty toilets.
The café has been plagued with other problems too.
Mr Yilmaz recently paid more than £24,000 to install a canopy over the entrance to stop rain coming in through the doors. He also erected a fence around the café after people repeatedly drove cars over the patio, right up to the building.
There were problems with the roof leaking throughout the winter and water coming up through the floor. Both issues that have now been mitigated.
If all that wasn’t enough, a sliding metal door needs to be rehung. It gets stuck every morning due to rust, requiring three people to open it.
On several occasions it has been stuck open at night, resulting in antisocial behaviour, such as graffiti, fighting and syringes and sharp objects being discovered the next day.
Melvyn Mills, a former councillor and representative of the Walton Trading Alliance, voiced the group’s support for Mr Yilmaz.
“This is the jewel in the crown of Walton for many years as a beauty spot and it is far from a beauty spot when we’ve got this situation here,” he said.
“Having spoken to the traders last week, they are all in agreement that this needs to be right.”
He said the cost to put the issues right was immaterial at this stage. “Let’s get it fixed and sort out who is to blame afterwards,” he said.
A spokesman for Elmbridge Borough Council said: “There have been some supported and put ongoing issues with the toilets at Cowey Sale, built by Surrey County Council.
“Elmbridge Borough Council and Surrey County Council are working together to resolve these issues speedily so the tenant can progress with his plans to open the café.
“Following an onsite meeting, Surrey County Council’s contractor has done some urgent works to address the drainage problems.
“Both Elmbridge and Surrey councils are committed to resolving the issues so that the toilets remain open to the public.”
Izzet Yilmaz (foreground) with Michael Pattemore, and Melvyn Mills and Joanna Gordon from Walton Trading Alliance.