Leicester Mercury

Petition forces rethink on cafe closure plans


- By ADRIAN TROUGHTON adrian.troughton@reachplc.com @adriantrou­ghton

PEOPLE power has forced a rethink of plans to close a family-run cafe.

The Canal and River Trust, which owns the Foxton Locks site, has put the move on hold so talks can be held with the operator of the Top Lock Coffee Stop.

More than 2,200 people had signed a petition within a few days, calling for a rethink, after Gary Hives, who has run the business with his wife and daughter for 15 years, was told he would have to shut in October as his lease would not be renewed.

Gary said the letter from the trust giving him six months’ notice of the lease being terminated could not have been worse as he was planning to hand the business over to his daughter, Kelly Foster.

She battled breast cancer last year and, after being given the all-clear, was looking forward to taking on a bigger role.

Gary said he was happy to hear that the trust has agreed to talk to him about the decision not to renew his lease.

“They have asked to meet so we will and see what they have to say about all this,” he said.

“I hope we can work it out so that we stay here, after all the blood, sweat and tears we have put in over the years.

“I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. We are honoured and humbled that so many got behind us on this.”

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien added his support to the campaign to let Gary renew the lease after visiting the cafe.

The trust indicated it wanted to run the cafe itself, but now said it wants to discuss continuing the lease in line with future plans for the site.

Hannah Solomons, from Market Harborough, who launched the online petition, said: “It’s wonderful to see the voices of the general public have actually been listened to.”


A spokesman for the Canal and River Trust said: “Further to the comments in the media about Mr Hives’s desire to extend the lease at Foxton, we are putting our plans on hold while we have further discussion­s with him.

“We’d like to meet so that we can discuss his plans and how they align with the trust’s need to raise awareness of its work caring for our waterways and to engage more visitors to Foxton in how they can help support the canal network. We’re in the process of developing a masterplan for Foxton and have proposed to Mr Hives that, while we complete that planning, we discuss the continuati­on of his lease. “Such an extension would give more time to assess the options and opportunit­ies presented at the site, both to promote the trust’s work and ensure the best service is provided for all those visiting Foxton in years to come.”

I hope we can stay after all the blood, sweat and tears we have put in over the years

Gary Hives

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 ?? ANDREW CARPENTER ?? PLANS FOR THE FUTURE: Gary Hives and Kelly Foster

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