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Everyone's angry about... Parliament Hill Café

Isabelle Aron

We unpick the issues that have got Londoners all riled up. This week, it's the closure of Parliament Hill Café in Hampstead.

What's all this, then? Have they run out of almond milk in Hampstead?

Not quite. The local supply of dairy-free alternatives is safe for now, but the same can’t be said for the much-loved Parliament Hill Café on Hampstead Heath, which is closing.

What? Why? How could they do this to the good people of north London?

The City of London Corporation has awarded the contract to run the café to the Benugo chain, who will reopen it in May. Alberto D’Auria, whose family has run the café for 33 years, says the chain simply outbid them for the contract. Sue Ireland, director of green spaces at the Corporation, said it was fulfilling its ‘duty’ to run its services ‘in the most cost-effective manner’. Replacing a cheap-and-cheerful park caff with an upmarket chain isn’t that ‘cost- effective’ for Londoners, though, is it?

Let me guess, locals aren't happy about it?

You’ve got it. Hampstead resident Zoe James has started a petition to save the café, which now boasts more than 4,000 signatures. And it’s not just locals who are up in arms. The campaign has got some pretty eclectic celebrity backing, from rapper Professor Green to former spin doctor Alastair Campbell. Even food critic Giles Coren has chimed in, saying that if Benugo takes over, ‘you may as well have a McDonald’s’. Don’t give them any more ideas, Giles! 

Feel strongly about the cafe too? Sign the petition.

Check out the best laptop-friendly cafés in Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia for actually getting some work done.

And you can now have a cup of tea with a stranger at a new London meet-up group.

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