Railway buffet owner takes rent reduction mission to Downing Street

Dan Purchese with Carol Ritchie at her buffet in Angmering railway station
Dan Purchese with Carol Ritchie at her buffet in Angmering railway station

One buffet owner’s quest to get compensation for the rail strikes has taken a step forward as a councillor plans to take the cause to Downing Street.

Carol Ritchie, owner of Ritchie’s Buffet in Angmering railway station, has been on a mission to get a reduction in her rent from Southern Rail after her business was ruined by the rail strikes.

Carol is great, and while things have started to pick up, she is so close to going under that I just want to help her

Councillor Dan Purchese

She now has the backing of town and district councillor Dan Purchese, who is campaigning for her to get 25 per cent off her rent for the coming year.

He said: “She has put her life savings and love into the business and I want to see it continue.”

Mr Purchese is a long-time customer of Richie’s Buffet.

He has started an online petition to get her rent reduced, which has been signed 600 times so far, and a written version will be put in Ritchie’s Buffet. Click here to sign it.

Once it gets enough signatures, the councillor and the buffet owner will be presenting the petition to Downing Street.

The grandmother said she is ‘on a mission’ to get the rent reduction from Southern: “Customers are able to get compensation, so why can’t I?”

She added that the petition ‘has made me feel better that people care, I’m really grateful’.

Mr Purchese said: “I don’t think Southern have thought about the impact strikes have had on smaller businesses and their importance to communities like Rustington, Littlehampton and Angmering.

“Carol is great, and while things have started to pick up, she is so close to going under that I just want to help her.”

The 57-year-old started her buffet in June 2006.

But since April last year when the strikes began, her income was so badly affected that she could not afford to pay herself and was worried she would lose her house.

The grandmother’s customers rallied around her, with many raising money to help her pay her tax in January – but her March rent bill is looming.

Mr Purchese said that he has bought cups of tea and ‘the odd bacon sandwich’ from Carol over the last 10 years.

“We have all seen how hard she works at 7.30 in the morning; she knows all her customers and what their orders are.

“You don’t get that from big companies.”

Southern Rail wrote a letter to the buffet owner on January 17 which said ‘we genuinely want to help small businesses where we can’. It went on to say that Amey TPT Ltd, Southern’s managing agents, were ‘reviewing each tenant’s situation on a case by case basis’.

Amey TPT Ltd have been approached by the Gazette.

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