Community rallies around popular eatery after it is hit with noise and smell complaints by a senior UK judge neighbour.
Llandaff residents have started a petition in an attempt to save the Summer Palace, a 32-year-old Chinese restaurant.
The restaurant has been prosecuted because of noise and odour, after complaints were made by neighbour Sir Gary Hickinbottom, a senior UK judge.
“I am 100% behind them… He’s [Sir Hickinbottom] has complained about the smoke going from the garden and he’s actually complained about his neighbour’s cat going in his garden,” says Tony Bass, a local resident and regular customer. “I think he’s a professional complainer.”
According to the petition’s launcher Georgia Morris, Sir Gary Hickinbottom only resides in Llandaff’s house on the occasional weekend.
“The next thing he will be doing is complaining about the Church’s bells, and then the next thing he’ll be doing is complaining about the weddings, the funerals and christenings, so where do we end?” says Tony Bass.
Summer Palace had a food hygiene rating of five, the highest awarded, but the owner, Kwok Wai Chim, spent almost £20,000 on installing an extractor fan to respond to the judge’s complaint.
However, they didn’t get the proper permission for the instalment and now are facing the allegation. The Cardiff Council took its legal action under section 80 of the Environmental Prosecution Act 1990. It is said that the fine can result from the failure to comply with an abatement notice.
Kwok Wai Chim pleaded “not guilty” at a hearing on February 13th at Cardiff Magistrates Court. There will be another trial date from April 22nd to 24th. If he loses the case, then the restaurant could be at risk of closure.
The uncertain future of this beloved restaurant has caused an uproar amongst its supporters.
“I felt so sorry for them because it’s hard enough having a business as it is. We’ve owned our place for 23 years and if someone came and decided what we did was wrong I’d be gutted because It’s your livelihood. They’ve got children,” says the owner of K2 Coffee House, Kim Geary.
“It’s one of the best Chinese restaurants in Cardiff, the owner is very welcoming,” says regular customer, Darren Mantsfeelens.
Many High Street shops have displayed the petition for customers to sign. Sam Powell, Staff of Butchers Arms, says: “ it brings a lot of business to the area simply by having a Chinese there… It’s a huge part of the community that Chinese and if it goes everyone will be really sad.”
As well as the neighbouring businesses, First Minister Mark Drakeford, Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan and former Wales rugby international Jonathan Davies have expressed their support to keep the Summer Palace.
Local councillor, Sean Driscoll said to the Wales Online: “Mr Chim and his family have worked hard for decades to establish their business. Llandaff is a vibrant High Street, and The Summer Palace is a vital part of its continued success.”
“We’re working with Mr Chim with his new planning application which we are confident will resolve the noise and smell alleged issue,” tweeted Sean Driscoll.