A trader who has sold Portslade commuters their morning fix of coffee from his van is to be evicted after 12 years.
Tony Beck, 58, has survived previous moves to stop him trading at Portslade Station – but this time, he has been given 28 days to leave the forecourt.
Southern has revamped an old Grade II listed building into a new platform cafe, waiting room and bike hub.
Tony bid to run the cafe, but was outbid by an unnamed independent operator whose identity will be announced in the coming weeks.
And although the new cafe will only be open to passengers from the platform, Southern says there is no room for Tony too.
He said: “In 2014 they wanted to put a bike rack up and they didn’t have anywhere for me to go. They put it on my pitch while I wasn’t there and eventually we got the rack removed.
“I was called the perfect tenant and I got outbid by somebody.
“There’s no access to the public. You have to be a commuter to use it. About 40% of the people who I serve don’t even get on a train. As a business plan, it’s pretty flawed.
“I’m looking at being out of work on 26 April. There’s the possibility of getting a street traders permit, but they won’t have my anywhere on their premises.
“I’ve been here 12 years in March. It might as well be 12 days the way they have treated me.
Ward councillor Robert Nemeth said: “Southern has once again let Tony down – this time in the worst possible way.
“Cllr Peltzer Dunn and I received assurances from Southern in the past that Tony’s tenancy was safe. He was the perfect tenant and exactly what commuters wanted.
“This isn’t the first time Southern has treated him badly.
“The proposed new outlet is in the wrong place and must have been incredibly expensive to build given the refurbishment costs of the neglected building in which it is to be situated.
“I hope that Tony pops up nearby so that he can continue to brighten up commuter’s mornings.”
A Southern spokesman said: “We have updated Mr Beck throughout about the progress of improvement work at the station and the expected opening date of the new cafe; the new cafe will open only after his has closed. Work will begin fitting out the new cafe in a couple of weeks so that it is ready in time.
“The new coffee shop, ideally placed for passengers waiting to catch their train, will be indoors and have tables and chairs, providing better facilities than Mr Beck’s mobile kiosk outside the station.
“We encouraged Mr Beck to apply for the lease of the coffee shop. Sadly, however, his proposal was significantly below the market rate and the winning bidder also offered to fit out the new shop to a better standard.
“As we said before, it is sad to lose someone who has been at the station for years and this was a difficult decision taken with a heavy heart but the process was fair.
“Ideally, we would keep both operations running but there simply isn’t enough business.”
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