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Popular North Acton Pavilion cafe operator told to leave by Acton arts charity

Hundreds of people have signed both an online and printed petition to save the operator of a popular cafe in North Acton from being closed.

After more than two years running the cafe at North Acton Playing Fields, Yahya Almssol has been told by an Acton arts charity he rents from that he must be out by 7 June 2024. As a result, the cafe operator says it will “endanger the running of my business and leave me out of pocket”.

Mr Almssol, who took over running the cafe in 2022 from another provider who left, offers a range a coffee, cakes and sandwiches seven days a week and has built up a loyal following in the area.

Among community activities and events 47-year-old Mr Almssol has hosted include Macmillan coffee mornings, senior citizens friendship club, the 2022 Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration and the 2023 Coronation of King Charles III.

Celebrating Queen's Platinum Jubilee in 2022 with local MP Dr Rupa Huq and North Acton local councillors. Photo: North Acton Pavilion Cafe/Instagram
Celebrating Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 with local MP Dr Rupa Huq and North Acton local councillors. Photo: North Acton Pavilion Cafe/Instagram

An online petition to save the popular cafe has gone live while a printed petition has seen more than 500 people sign it.

ARTification, an Acton-based arts organisation which operates North Acton Pavilion under a lease from Ealing Council has given notice to Mr Almssol that as part of its plans for the pavilion it is bringing it back under its control.

In April 2024, Mr Almssol was informed by ARTIfication that it was terminating its agreement in a letter to him. In his response to them which has been seen by EALING.NEWS, he replied:

“Your letter states that you have been reviewing the management of the North Acton Playing Fields Pavilion, but I have not had knowledge of this review or the chance to participate. I have not been made aware of any complaints and I note that the Artification trustees have not replied or actioned the matters arising from the meetings held in October or December regarding issues myself and local residents had raised with your management of the facility.

“I do not agree that it will be in the best interests of the community for the cafe to be returned to the Artification to run. I am proud of running a successful and popular community cafe over the past two years.

“The abrupt termination date will endanger the running of my business and leave me out of pocket. I request a review of this decision, an extension of the deadline for me to leave the premises and a commitment from Artification to cover the costs of the removal and storage of my equipment as well as compensation for the costs incurred in terms of licenses, agreements and insurance undertaken on an annual basis. This will be necessary because Artification have failed to hold the six monthly review meetings mandated by our agreement and instead given me only five weeks to leave.

In a statement provided to EALING.NEWS issued by its trustees, ARTIfication said: “ARTification has been operating as a charity in and around West London for over two decade. Of foremost importance to us is adhering to our charitable objects and connecting and transforming our community through art.

Since 2017 ARTification has had the privilege of running the North Acton Pavilion. Two years ago, the charity made the decision to offer a cafe service at the Pavilion, which Mr Yahya Almssol was engaged to run. The term of ARTification’s agreement with Mr Almssol comes to an end on the 7th June 2024.

The trustees of ARTification routinely review the charity’s operations and have determined that it is in the best interests of the charity and North Acton Pavilion that ARTification should resume control of the entire Pavilion space, including the café. This means that we will not be renewing Mr Almssol’s agreement when it ends. We do however intend to continue to utilise the space in furtherance of our charity’s objects and vision of service to the community, about which we are passionate.

As far as the charity’s agreement with Mr Almssol is concerned, we have sought to and are confident that at all times we have acted in accordance with the terms of our agreement and best practice.

In the coming months we will be updating the community with our plans for the Pavilion and we look forward to welcoming you into the space in the near future.”

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