Mar 15 2013 By Jack Griffith
armed forces art
A POPULAR cafe and gift store which pledged cash to war veteran charities has been forced to close after negotiations over a new lease broke down.
The Forties tea room, in the Mall Pavilions, shut on Thursday and the adjoining Armed Forces Art shop is selling off the last of its stock.
The gift shop, which sold 1940's memorabilia and wartime artefacts, first opened in the Mall Pavilions in February 2011.
Last January, it moved to a bigger unit in the mall and opened the tea room, but the following month the council rescinded its discretionary rate relief, for charities and not-for-profit organisations, and their business rates increased more than five-fold as a consequence.
More than 8,000 people signed a petition in support of the shop as it fought to stay afloat.
Sammy Morgan, managing director, said that last-minute efforts were made in vain to secure charity status and a new lease.
"We are very disappointed that things have turned out like this. We feel as though we have been given the run-around.
"We have a lot of regular customers, many of whom were elderly, and it is like a community centre. We have had people in tears over this, it is a real shame."
She added that the store had raised more than £400,000 for Help For Heroes, the RAF Bomber Command Memorial and Maintenance Appeal, and other causes since opening two years ago.
Andrew Davy, General Manager, The Mall Uxbridge, said of the departure: "We are very sorry to see The Forties Tea Room and Farm Shop close, though we understand it could not continue trading.
"The tenant has exercised a break option with us and we understand the company is now in administration."
Are you sad to see Armed Forces Art and the Forties Team Room go? Email jack.griffith@trinitymirror.