Fed up residents have formed a chorus of dissent against Kingston Council’s decision to charge a bakery for providing a popular social spot for Old Malden’s disabled and elderly people.

Last week, the Plough Bakery in Malden Road was visited by council staff who demanded it remove external tables and chairs, used by many elderly and disabled residents who claimed they had nowhere else to socialise.

The petition was signed by 62 people and started by Old Malden Councillor David Fraser, who blasted the council for not supporting the bakery, which he said provided a valuable community service.

Coun Fraser said: “Have you ever heard such rubbish in all your life? It’s health and safety gone crazy but that’s Kingston Council for you. They clamp down on anything.

“I talked to a blind chap called Charlie who was in tears about the whole thing. As a social worker I think they should be ashamed of themselves.

“The bakery is doing the old and disabled a favour and is not making a great deal of money. Since the council closed the day centre at Hobkirk House there are no services for people in this area.”

The petition was presented to the Maldens and Coombe neighbourhood committee meeting on Wednesday night by Coun Fraser and the owner of the Plough Bakery, Steve Skilton.

After receiving warning letters in the post, a shop worker at the Plough Bakery said they were visited by council staff on Monday, who said they would have to pay £730 for the new licence.

A Kingston Council spokesman said that under the London Local Authorities Act, all premises that wish to have tables and chairs outside must have a licence to ensure they are properly monitored.

The spokesman said: “The council is keen to help businesses that wish to provide outside seating for their customers but is required to ensure that these facilities are properly licensed and monitored.

“The licensing system is fairly applied across the borough and has been tremendously successful in optimising the space in which businesses can operate outside.”

Do you use the bakery? Do you think the system is fair? Or are you angry at the council?

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