LYME Regis Town Council is set to go out to tender to find a replacement operator for the Rinky Tinks ice cream parlour on the seafront.
The council closed Rinky Tinks at the end of March after the owners failed to pay the council its rent, resulting in the loss of 15 jobs. The move attracted criticism from former owner Lucinda Cliff.
Now, the council will look to attract a short-term tenant to ensure the ice cream parlour is open during the Easter holidays and the summer.
It then hopes to complete repair work on the premises in the winter, before attracting a longer-term tenant from 2015.
There have already been 11 enquiries about the availability of the premises and an extraordinary full council meeting will be held to decide which offer is the best. Speaking in the public forum, former owner of Rinky Tinks Lucinda Cliff criticised the council for its handling of the situation. Mrs Cliff said: “I take issue with how we have been dealt with. I feel we haven’t been treated fairly by the council. The decision was short-sighted and very unfair.
“We have dependent children and we have 15 youngsters who were employed with us who now have no jobs.
“The decision to close us is a deeply unpopular action from a deeply disliked council. We have had 7,000 people come out and support us. We were more than an ice cream shop to this town.”
Cllr Stan Williams said the council should look at altering the terms of the contract to make it a more attractive proposition. He said: “It is a very complicated situation. Things were a bit different on the front when we set the lease. They have a very restrictive means of operation and we should be looking to maximise the income and I think we need to set up a committee to manage the area.
“I would like to see the area extended a bit. We all thought the rent wasn’t sustainable and we don’t want to get into this situation again. We need to make it good for someone to make a living out of it.”
Councillors discussed the best time to close the shop for the refurbishment work and the longer term future of the shop and said that the council should look at the best business plan from potential investors, rather than accepting the highest bid.
Cllr George Symonds suggested asking for money up front from potential investors to ‘safe guard’ the council against any future problems.