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Protesters make a stand outside Crawley coffee shop after wage dispute

Megaphone and banners were used as people demanded a resolution.

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Photo courtesy of Dan Dobson

Shoppers in Crawley town centre today may have come across members of the community who were participating in a peaceful protest demanding a young mans wages to be paid.

The protesters claimed that Affogato coffee shop owed an ex-employee unpaid wages after ending his contract with them.

Photo courtesy of Kiran Khan

Photos from outside the café show numerous people holding placards and waving small flags.

Photo courtesy of Stuart G. @SGunatillake

Whilst the protesters were not preventing customers from entering the premises the impact of the number of people there and the use of a megaphone may have had a detrimental effect on business.

At one point police were seen at the protest.

Trade Unionist Dan Dobson who helped organise the protest said:

“It has now been a full month since Harry Sheppard was ‘let go’ by Affogato and he has still not received his outstanding wages for several weeks’ work. Despite numerous broken promises, Harry’s wages are still being withheld. The owner did write a cheque after repeated conversations, but yesterday it emerged that he decided to cancel the cheque before it could be successfully cashed. That discovery led to today’s protest being called at short notice to apply pressure to the owners.”

“The owners have acknowledged that they owe Harry the wages, but they have continuously delayed paying the outstanding amount. An agreement was signed by both parties today for payment to be made within the next five days.”

Harry Sheppard commented saying,

“Today we protested outside Affogato coffee shop in Crawley because they owe me over a months wages. After being shown the door because they were overstaffed, the management have avoided and delayed paying me repeatedly. Last week they seemingly gave in and handed me a cheque only to then call the bank and cancel it. This is not on and as it turns out all the other staff members have not been paid either. The management left me with no choice but to take action and, with the support of local friends and my union, UNITE Community, we effectively shut the shop down. I am still waiting to be paid but I have made an agreement with the management and a date has been set which hopefully they live up to.”

The protest started at 1100 today and was called off at 1600 after a meeting finally took place between the owner, Harry Sheppard and Harry’s friend Dan Dobson which was also facilitated by Crawley Police.

Both Harry and Dan said they wanted to extend a special thank you to PC Barton, who they say did a ‘fantastic job’ facilitating a difficult meeting to ensure a resolution was reached.

The protesters say that providing the owners keep to the agreement, the protest could now be over but that if the agreement is broken then there will be a significantly larger demonstration next weekend.

Affogato Café has been contacted for comment.

Business

‘It’s not nearly enough funding’ warns Crawley Council as business grant applications open

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Eligible businesses can now apply for the latest round of business grants but Crawley Borough Council says the funding is not nearly enough.

Despite Crawley being responsible for 25 per cent of the economic output in West Sussex, it has been given some of the lowest grant funding in the county.

The government has given the council £3,733,396 made up of:

  • £1,485,216 in Local Restrictions Support Grant to distribute to businesses that pay business rates and have had to close during the second lockdown
  • £2,248,180 in Additional Restrictions Grant, which is given to businesses that don’t pay business rates and have been affected by the lockdown but not legally required to close.

Out of seven local authorities in West Sussex, only one received less than Crawley’s combined grants figure. Five councils received more.

The Additional Restrictions Grant is based on £20 per person in Crawley rather than the number of businesses in the town. This means that Arun District Council, for example, has received £3,215,160 due to a larger population but smaller economy.

And only one council in West Sussex received less than Crawley across both rounds of grant funding in April and November. Crawley received a total of £17,167,646. The highest – Chichester District Council – received £43,739,396.

In the first round of grants earlier this year only 23 per cent of Crawley businesses received financial help from the government.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of the Council, said:

“The pot of grant funding provided by the government is very limited and does not recognise the number of businesses we have in Crawley.

“The way the grant settlement is calculated – on population and not on the size of the economy – means we have to turn most businesses away, while other councils have millions to spare. This is causing major hardship at a time when Crawley is already the hardest-hit economy in the UK.”

Businesses that have had to close during the second lockdown can apply for a Local Restrictions Support Grant by visiting https://grantapproval.co.uk

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