Students want salad! Anger as Stoke Newington leisure centre charges £1.30 for access to cafe
Schoolchildren are campaigning to eat salads after the leisure centre housing their favourite cafe started charging for access.
Stoke Newington School and Sixth Form students would cross Clissold Road most days to eat lunch at the Hoxton Beach Cafe, inside Clissold Leisure Centre.
But last month they were shocked to learn a £1.30 charge had been brought in by bosses at the council facility, run by Better.
Non-members now have to pay every time they access the centre without using a service.
Students Caitlin Palmer O’Shaughnessy and Mirander Stocker, both 16, created a petition opposing the move that has received 231 signatures, including those of teachers and cafe staff.
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“The cafe is very practical for students,” said Caitlin. “We’re not noisy. We cause no harm and are always very polite and respectful. We are having to resort to chips, toasties and sugary snacks – the only things available at a reasonable price in Church Street.”
The council said the charge was in line with security measures at other centres and said people had been caught swimming or in the gym after saying they were going to the cafe.
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Caitlin’s mum, Anabel Palmer, of Dynevor Road, said: “I think it’s really sad a leisure centre that exists to promote health and wellbeing is not doing that.”
Parent Dawn Grover, of Manor Road, added: “I have lived in Stoke Newington for 20 years. I always believed the place was great for the community and it should be open and available to everybody. When I heard, I was completely aghast.”
Cafe manager Erika D’Aquino signed the petition, saying the new rule was losing her £200 a day.
A council spokeswoman said: “It is extremely important management knows who is inside at all times, not only in case of an emergency but, following police advice, for security and safety reasons.
“The cafe is intended primarily for use by customers. There are many cafes in Church Street – just a few minutes’ walk – with the majority offering very healthy food options.”