Weymouth Town Council will take over the running of Aunty Vi's Cafe after a majority of councillors voted in favour of the plan.

At last night's Full Council meeting, held online, 17 voted in favour of the plan to run the cafe in-house, and 11 councillors were against.

Here is the list of councillors for and against:


Gill Taylor (Lib Dem)

Jon Orrell (Green)

David Harris (Lib Dem)

David Northam (Lib Dem)

Kate Wheller (Independent)

Luke Wakeling (Independent)

Graham Lambert (Green)

Ken Whatley (Independent)

Howard Legg (Lib Dem)

Peter Barrow (Lib Dem)

Trefor Morgan (Lib Dem)

David Manning (Lib Dem)

Graham Winter (Lib Dem)

Ryan Hope (Lib Dem)

Alex Fuhrmann (Labour)

Davie Gray (Lib Dem)

Lucy Hamilton (Labour)


Richard Nickinson (Conservative)

Christine James (Independent

Kevin Brookes (Conservative)

Jan Bergman (Conservative)

Tony Ferrari (Conservative)

Tia Roos (Labour)

Colin Huckle (Labour)

Oz Kanji (Lib Dem)

Ann Weaving (Labour)

Michael Frost (Labour)

Mark Tewkesbury (Labour)

The decision comes amid a huge public backlash against the proposals. A petition in support of holding a public bid for the contract garnered over 1,500 signatures in under a week.

As reported, the café's lease will end in March 2021. The option of extending the current lease for a year under emergency Covid measures did not form part of tonight's debate.

Current lease holder Peter Townsend has been running Aunty Vi's for 14 years and has previously spoken of his and his family's devastation over the plan, with local business chiefs and councillors rallying in support.

It is claimed that he only found out about the proposal from a customer, two days before a meeting took place at the start of this month.

Weymouth Town Council said the proposals will offer 'best value for money' for local taxpayers and will cost £57,785.

Following the result, cllr Louie O'Leary said: "I'm absolutely appalled by tonights result. "It appears the leadership of Weymouth town council wish to ignore Weymouth residents and play shopkeeper."

The council issued a statement shortly after tonight's vote.

It says: "Councillors have agreed that the council will directly operate its own catering kiosk on the site from Spring 2021. This is part of the council’s efforts to generate more income from commercial activities and thereby help to generate funds that can be used to support other public services.

"This new service will be run as part of the council’s other catering outlet at the new Beach Office near the King’s Statue on the Promenade. The council is keen that its catering service complements nearby cafes and offers something different for visitors.

"It is also important that the council’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in the way it operates its catering services."

Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce is now calling for a 'rethink' on the decision.

In a statement, Craig Oakes, president of the Chamber, said: "Given the support from the public towards the proprietor we feel the council as a whole should have taken further consideration on this matter.

"To make a set in stone decision like this especially at this time is very troubling and it was not urgent to be decided. The tender is not up until March.

"Anything can be taken back no matter what is put into the public record. People can change their minds and at least think about how this could turn our town into a fractured divide that just causes constant friction.

"This could very well be more than a dispute about a beach hut. A harmonious more communicative town would be a much better outcome in the long run.

"We implore a rethink and to at least discuss the situation again and that the business owner be more directly involved with the discussion."

Yesterday the Echo ran a reader poll which showed the majority of participants wanted to see current lease holder Peter Townsend's contract extended.

However one participant voted 188 times in favour of the council take-over.

Discounting multiple votes from the same computer, the results are as follows:

1) The council should allow people to bid for the contract when it expires in March 2021: 67 votes

2) The council should extend Peter Townsend's current lease for a year: 211 votes

3) Weymouth Town Council should run the cafe: 19 votes