Nightmare continues as thieves target unlucky cafe at Knaresborough station

Doreen Hodgson, part owner of the Old Ticket Office cafe at Knaresborough Railway Station with the stone that was used to smash the window.
Doreen Hodgson, part owner of the Old Ticket Office cafe at Knaresborough Railway Station with the stone that was used to smash the window.

Disgruntled tenants who run the cafe at Knaresborough Railway Station have taken yet another blow after thieves smashed a window and stole the charity pot.

This is just one in a long line of issues which they say have been ongoing since they took on the lease over four years ago.

The cafe has only just reopened after months of repair work on the roof, which they say has not been fit for purpose since they moved in, left the businesses along the platform out of work.

Amy Hodgson, owner of the Old Ticket Office Cafe, said she has had constant trouble with the premises since taking on the lease, including leaks, power cuts and a ceiling collapse, leaving her to deal with the aftermath.

After years of problems with the roof, Northern Rail, who own the station, organised for Network Rail to carry out vital repair works to improve the properties.

But business owners at the station have told the Knaresborough Post that they were made to vacate their properties for weeks and clear out their possessions whilst the work was being carried out, with no arrangements for storage during this time.

Doreen Hodgson, Amy’s mum, said: “Originally they said we could continue to trade while they did the work, but then they changed their minds. We were made to take everything out, the huge cookers, everything, with no idea where we could put them. We were also made to turn off our freezers on the day we had to leave, so we lost nearly all our food. We have had no compensation or reimbursement for the money we have lost while we’ve been closed. It has been an absolute nightmare.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Network Rail has been working at Knaresborough Station on a major project to completely renew the roof. This will improve the experience of passengers and those working in the station.

“Network Rail had originally planned to allow tenants to remain in the station whilst the work took place, however during an inspection, the roof was in a worse state than anticipated and further work was required. To allow this to take place safely, tenants were asked to temporarily vacate the premises. This work is now complete, and all businesses have reopened. We apologise for any inconvenience and thank those affected for their patience.”

Business owners at the station have said they will continue to fight back after the work left them with no income or storage provisions.

The Old Ticket Office Cafe and Station Haus arts and crafts hub, who are located along the platform, have told the Knaresborough Post they are unhappy with the way they have been treated by the cafe’s property agents , who handle the property for Northern Rail.

The latter own the rail station and are ultimately responsible for its structural condition, and Network Rail are charged with carrying out the actual repairs.

The businesses said they were notified about the repair work on June 10, and were told on June 17 that they could continue to trade during this time.

However, they say that on June 26 they were given 10 days notice to vacate the premises and remove all of their belongings and were told they would not be allowed back until the work was complete.

Doreen said: “This is just so unfair. They’ve really messed us around and we won’t stand for it. We will fight this as much as we can.”

Both businesses said they were told they would be able to return to the premises to begin trading by August 9.

But on August 8 they were told that it would be at least another week, meaning they were losing out on even more money than they planned for.

The owners of Station Haus, Howard Bibby and Cath Delaney, were also hoping to be open for the town’s popular FEVA (Festival of Entertainment and Visual Arts), as they had planned to hold classes and workshops during the festival. However they were not able to get back into the property on time and had to cancel.

They said the last minute notice has severely affected the business, which only launched last year, and cost them both money and clients.

Cath said: “FEVA was meant to be our biggest event, it was meant to really put us on the map. It was what we’d been buiding up to all year. Having to cancel has really knocked us back. We’ve lost artists as well as months of income. Now it’s like we’re starting from scratch again, but this time with no money behind us.”

Doreen added: “The whole thing has just been soul-destroying.”

The businesses have stressed that the contractors who carried out the repair work were professional and helpful.