University Cafe risks closure

Published

Credit: Chris Phan

Holly Sloey
News Reporter

The University Café is in danger of closing due to its struggle to afford the current council rates, a recent Facebook post has claimed.

The café, situated on Byres Road, has been open since 1918 and is one of the most famous establishments in Glasgow’s West End. However, a Facebook campaign page dedicated to encouraging people to visit Castle Toward in Argyll and Bute has turned its followers towards a new cause after posting about its discovery that the café has been hardly managing to stay afloat as a result of Glasgow City Council’s West End parking regime.

Businesses situated on Byres Road now have to pay £700 per vehicle up front at the beginning of the year in order for staff to park near their shops, whilst parking meters can be found almost everywhere nearby. They are also liable for a fee of £120 per month as a result of being situated in a Business Improvement District. A number of small business owners in the area say that this, coupled with the decreased footfall from the recent closure of the Western Infirmary, has damaged trade significantly.

Rico Verecchia, the owner of the café, commented: “Next year is 100 years for us here, and we might not even make it that far. It’s got to a stage now where there’s money going out all the time and no money coming in.

“The footfall we had from the Western – there were thousands of people who worked there who would come in – that’s all gone. Then you’ve got this Business Improvement District cost and a £700 permit to park outside my business…It’s too much.

“There are estate agents which have bought five permits. That’s £3500. They can afford that but it means they are parking outside our shops so people can’t even stop there.”

Wilma Scott, owner of Byres Road hairdresser X-Cutz, was also critical of the increased rates, and calls for more support for smaller businesses.

Scott said: “I have single parents who work for me who only work 16 hours. One particular person has a child in nursery and one in school. How is she supposed to do all that on the bus and be in work for 9am when she doesn’t live nearby?

“By that time there are no parking spaces near the shop anyway and we’re having to park miles away.

“Larger businesses like Sainsbury’s and Waitrose can afford to pay £700 but we can’t.”

At the time of publication, the campaign page’s post has around 10,000 likes and 8,000 shares, and a separate page has been set up to allow people to share their memories of the café.

A spokesperson from Glasgow City Council has defended its rates system, stating: “The new parking restrictions are designed to protect residents and local businesses from the indiscriminate and all day commuter parking occurring in the area.

“These measure prioritise residential parking and also improves the availability of parking for visitors to the area and customers to local businesses. Business parking permits are designed to support business use in the area. The cost – £700 – is a substantial discount on the pay and display costs.”