CELEBRITY chef Mark Hix has blasted his local council after he was ordered to tear down his restaurant's wooden decking.
Hix posted a picture of the £20,000 decking being removed from Oyster and Fish House in Lyme Regis, Dorset, after losing a planning battle.
Posting on Instagram he described it as “devastating” and said: “It’s a sad day.
“Thank you Lyme Regis Town Councillors for your total lack of support.
“Our deck will be gone by Friday as requested. We fought the battle to the very end, but sadly lost.
“We shall soldier on at @theoysterandfishhouse regardless.
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“Huge thanks to @castlewoodwines and other friends who have been so kind to come and volunteer to take the deck down and put it back to the piece of grass that was never used.
“Also huge thanks to all the people who have got behind us in so many ways to try to keep our deck. It will be a very different spring and summer this year, but what can you do?”
He finished the post with the hashtags #saveourdeck #towncouncil #jeremyclarkson #lymeregis #visitdorset #supportlocal #supportsmallbusiness.
Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen star Mr Hix, 60, built the structure at his seafront eaterie during the pandemic, when planning regulations were relaxed to help small businesses survive.
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He had wanted to make the temporary structure permanent and was left furious over the decking row, saying local officials were “defying the will of the people.”
The town council had given permission for several local businesses to have outside seating on council-owned land to help the hospitality industry during the Covid 19 outbreak.
But despite extending that permission, it runs out at the end of this month and the council opposed it continuing because they did not want to set the precedent of the land being used for commercial gain.
The high profile chef has since warned losing the outside seating will put a financial strain on his business and could cost jobs.
More than 10,000 people signed a petition set up to try and persuade the local council to allow the feature.
It read: “Mark Hix and his team at The Oyster and Fish House restaurant are being forced to remove their outside decking area adjacent to the restaurant in the Lister gardens in Lyme Regis.
“Mr Hix is one of the most respected chefs and food writers in the country and he may be forced to close the restaurant putting a number of jobs at risk.
“The Oyster & Fish House was one of a number of restaurants in Lyme Regis that were granted temporary permission from Lyme Regis Town Council to utilise outside space during and after the Covid pandemic. The end of this temporary period is 31st March 2023.
“Mr Hix has been trying to reach an agreement with Lyme Regis Town Council to agree to rent the land on a permanent basis, however the members of Lyme Regis Town Council have decided that they would like the decking removed.
“We are looking for your support to keep the decking in place. We hope that Lyme Regis Town Council will reconsider their decision and Mr Hix will be able to continue using the decking.”
Mr Hix had previously written on Instagram, saying the fight had left him “feeling utterly deflated and beaten.”
But he said he had decided that “we won’t go down without a fight.”
However he was told last month that the structure would need to be removed by the end of March.
Responding to his post on Monday, Margate artist Tracey Emin described the decision as “totally insane.”
She added: “Who locally was so against it?”
Another follower said: “Vote with your ‘feet’ peeps. Make yourself and your displeasure known at the local elections this year.
“Sorry to see another great local business is foiled by petty mindedness and lack of vision.”
Another added: “I am so sorry to hear this Mark – I am baffled and disappointed by this decision.
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“My wife and I recently travelled to Lyme Regis and the only reason we did was to dine in your restaurant!
“While we were there we ate in three other restaurants and did some shopping too – putting money and people into the local economy.”
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