Questions for Terry Fox – 25th August 2022 – the responses are necessarily wordy!

Thank you for your request for further information relating to the closure of the Rose Garden Café.

Please find response to your request set out below.

  1. Please give us a clear and precise update on the actions that the council have taken to date with regards to the cafe including the surveys completed and the meetings held.


RESPONSE – Chronology of Events

DEC 2018
Cyclical Condition Survey report produced by external Building Surveyors.

MAY 2022
Parks commissioned SCC, Capital Delivery Service (CDS) to undertake feasibility and provide cost report.

JUNE 2022
20/06/22
CDS officers visited site to start feasibility study

28/06/22
Feasibility study Structural Inspection Report received

JULY 22
05/07/22
Cyclical Condition Survey undertaken

12/07/22
Cyclical Condition Report received.

Structural Inspection Report and Building Condition Survey shared internally for consideration.

Feasibility study paused

22/07/22
FM team commissioned CDS to do structural survey within the café roof space and any other intrusive surveys required to help establish if the café was safe and how long could it remain operational.

26/07/22
Issue raised with Head of FM and urgent meeting arranged between internal stakeholders

27/07/22
Internal stakeholders meet to assess risk. Agreed to inform all stakeholders. i.e., officers, members, and café owners & temporarily close café.

27/07/22
Shared closure with Friends of Graves Park

28/07/22
Council representatives met Café Director and Café Manager on site. CDS Structural Engineer carried out a visual inspection of the café and concluded that it was not safe to remain open. Café Operator agreed that the café should close whist further investigation took place & discuss alternate solutions.

FM team arranged a lock change and Hares Fencing to be erected around the site.

Enquiries made with supplier of modular catering units.

29/07/22
Supplier provided example of food kiosk along with hire costs.

Structural Inspection Report and Building Condition Survey sent to Friends of Graves Park

Copy of initial building survey sent to Cafe Operators along with Food Kiosk brochure

01/08/22
Heras Fencing delivered and erected

04/08/2022
An independent structural survey carried out

05/08/2022
Senior Officers attended a public meeting was held by local people in the café garden

08/08/2022
Structural Engineers Draft Report received – Initial report agreed with SCC

09/08/2022
Café Operator requested access to café for staff on the 12th of August 2022 to retrieve stock

08/08/2022 – 11/08/2022
Discussions took place between CDS, external building surveyors & structural engineers.

Ecology consulted with regards to potential bat roosting.

Operator informed that immediate access to the café to collect stock not possible, declined on safety grounds until propping in place

Mandate issued to CDS for feasibility /option reports

CDS instructed to commission nocturnal bat survey

12/08/2022
Ecology commissioned to carry out survey

16/08/2022
Ecology undertaken survey

19/08/2022
First of the bat surveys was carried out

24/08/2022
Received update from Café Operator re replacement operation & financial position

25/08/22
Web page launched Rose Garden Cafe Closure | Sheffield City Council

01/09/22
Leader of the Council to meet with Friends of Graves Park

All surveys have been issued via the new web page Rose Garden Cafe Closure | Sheffield City Council

  1. Please give us a clear and precise list of the next planned actions and steps from the council in regard to the Cafe Building and the provision of a cafe facility.

RESPONSE

• The Council has been in contact with the operator every week since the closure of the café.
• The current operator discounted the option to provide a coffee cart but were investigating options to provide a Temporary Facility
• Agreed to report back to Ajman Ali, Executive Director – Operational Services week commencing 22 August 2022.
• 24/08/22 – Received update from the operator, providing further details of the financial implications to the café’s closure. They confirmed they were still waiting for costs to replace operation in the park. Property Services will negotiate with the operator re any claim for financial compensation in accordance with the council’s financial policies.
• 30/08/22 – Operator provided an estimate to replicate the ‘container café facility at Stannington Park and suggested the council speak directly with the provider, to seek a discount based on existing relationships. While we have not formally responded yet, we will be declining their offer as a viable temporary solution.
• We intend to seek written confirmation from the current operator to ascertain if they are willing to supply a coffee cart as an alternative solution, as previously intimated this is not viable. If they do not wish to provide a coffee cart, the opportunity will be offered to the open market.
• It will take approximately one month to procure a coffee cart.

  1. What are the timescales for the provision of a temporary cafe facility?

RESPONSE – We are working with the current operator and discussions are ongoing, as per response to Question 1 & 2. If we cannot agree terms with the current operator, then we will need to advertise the opportunity. (1 month for procurement of café cart)

  1. Will the council be taking over the full security of the building and improve this?
    RESPONSE – We will consider what additional security measures are needed in addition to what is in place at present. We have provided temporary Heras fencing, signage and conducting daily external inspections of the building.
  2. When will the second inspection be made available to the Campaign Group and can the council confirm that the roof space itself was inspected as part of that inspection?

RESPONSE – All inspection reports have been published on-line as per the link Rose Garden Cafe Closure | Sheffield City Council. The roof space was not accessed as it is not safe to do so.

  1. Is it not possible that the currently vacant property on Charles Ashmore Entrance can be provisioned as a temporary facility for the cafe?

RESPONSE – No, the building is unsuitable to be used as a cafe. Significant work would be required for change of use from a domestic property into a commercial operation, including full planning permission, meeting public health regulations etc.

  1. What maintenance is being completed on all buildings in the park, including risk assessments and health and safety assessments (which is a legal requirement)?

RESPONSE – see below – Graves Park Servicing & Works

Servicing

Capital Works

  1. Has anyone been in to check the cafe since the 8th August, and since the bad rain we experienced two weeks ago? Do the council know what further damage has been done?

RESPONSE – Entering the cafe building is not safe until the front elevation is propped. An external check of the site is undertaken daily.

  1. Do the council accept liability for the continued electric costs and the cost of the stock which has had to be disposed of/ is currently contained within the cafe which the tenants have been unable to access/is now out of date.

RESPONSE – We are in discussions with the operator about these matters. Property Services will negotiate with the operator re their claim for financial compensation and report in due course.

  1. Do the council accept that by only undertaking reactive repairs of the building, they have wilfully neglected their duty as trustees of the park in the maintenance of its assets?

RESPONSE – As trustees of the Charity the Council is responsible for the management and maintenance of the whole of the park. The cost of managing and maintaining the park far outstrips the income generated from the charitable activities and therefore each year the Council covers the additional costs for maintenance and management by way of a grant to the charity. In 2021 the additional revenue cost borne by the Council alone was over £280k. The Council commissions condition surveys in order to inform future investment decisions.

  1. Why has the Communication from officers to ALL interested parties been so poor? How and where are the council communicating the actions and decisions they are making?
    RESPONSE – We apologise for failure to communicate effectively. We received a high volume of emails and requests for information relating to the closure of the café and have tried to respond quickly whilst addressing the building concerns. We are working hard to prepare responses to questions from all parties as quickly as possible and liaising directly with the senior leadership of the cafe.

We have also set up a dedicated webpage Rose Garden Cafe Closure | Sheffield City Council to aid communication and provide transparency in matters relating to the café closure.

  1. Will Officers work with us on an open, AND transparent basis

RESPONSE – Yes. We want to assure people that openness and honesty are important to us, and we will be transparent in our dealings with this matter and publish as much information on our website as possible.

• The Web page will provide transparency and be used to sign post interested parties to relevant information and published documents.
• The Web page information will be grouped under common themes, as raised by the public and we will give access to all the reports that have been produced in relation to the building condition and structural information.
• Links to related websites and council decisions will also be made available.