Please help Smoke Shack to fight extreme, unreasonable and potentially unjust council action over our renovation. We want them to stop fighting us and work with us.

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Please help Smoke Shack to fight extreme, unreasonable and potentially unjust council action over our renovation. We want them to stop fighting us and work with us.

This petition had 5,487 supporters
Smoke Shack started this petition to Milton Keynes Council

Smoke Shack took over The Foresters Arms in Stony Stratford, September 2014. We were granted a premises licence by Milton Keynes Council to change it from a run-down, boarded up pub to a new and independent restaurant and we have worked incredibly hard to do that.

It is a Grade II listed building, the lowest kind. The Council's planning department is now trying to force us to remove every single piece of work done, over a dispute on several 50cm holes in the floor and wall for extraction ducts in and out, as required by the Environmental Health (EHO) department, also at Milton Keynes Council. These holes were the minimum necessary for the equipment and can be easily reinstated were the equipment ever to be taken out.

In simple terms, one part of the council told us we could go ahead and put a restaurant in, another that we had to put kitchen air extraction and ducting in, then another said we would not be permitted to make the holes for that extraction. We had no choice but to press on at this point and, because of this, the planning department at the council is waging a war against us on everything we have done simply to make a point - right down to paint on the shabby, previously painted walls.

We complied with the Fire Authority, again on behalf of Milton Keynes Council, in transforming what was a severe fire risk and general danger to the public, into a flourishing business and expanding local employer. The restaurant was kindly opened by our local MP, we have been featured on ITV and are currently in the running for 8 food industry awards. Our investment in this building, to fix 10-30 years of shoddy work, is now close to £100,000 and we have been ploughing every penny we make back into it. We also contribute £12,000 per year in council tax. More important than money, there has been an incredible amount of hard work and passion in this project by the team with support from family, friends and local tradespeople.

We use local suppliers and work with local companies. We get on with the local vendors, pubs and eateries around us, many of whom have felt the 1,000+ customers per week who travel into the town to dine with us have benefited their businesses and restored the corner to its former glory. Currently, we have nearly 14,000 fans on Facebook and a rating of 4.3 out of 5.0 on our Facebook reviews. We feel we have achieved so much in 6-7 months, since we opened.

Despite all of this, we find ourselves in a horribly upsetting situation. Milton Keynes Council's planning department believes it is appropriate, using taxpayer funding, to be trying to shut our business down. As if that were not enough, they also have two separate legal actions prosecuting both Terry and I personally, with the ambition of levying the biggest fines possible and potentially putting us in prison for up to 6 months. In total there are four council legal actions against us. All this over 50cm holes for the ducting, plus anything else they can tenuously get away with tacking on to the legal action, for example, an old ashtray and CCTV camera on the front of the building from when it was the pub.

It feels as though their agenda has become about making a point, and as much money as possible through the destruction of a business and its owners lives.

In spite of this, if they want to fight us in this way then we will fight back. We worked hard for 3 years to build this business, we have done nothing of any magnitude wrong and we will not have our business, our reputations and our lives dragged through the gutter in the interest of generating revenue to fill the council coffers.

This needs to stop. We want simply for the council to stop fighting us and talk to us. To see what little their negative action really achieves and the bigger positive picture of working with us to keep it open. Instead, it seems they just want to destroy our business and the lives of the people who work there.

We believe we have done a great job with this building and we have done a great deal of good for the local area - which is far from what the council would have anyone believe.

If you want to help, please support us in asking Milton Keynes Council to take into account what really is in the public's best interests and to work with us in finding a positive resolution. We remain optimistic of a positive dialogue with them in the future.

Your signature on this petition would really mean a lot to us, but please only sign it if your genuinely feel you agree and want to support our campaign.

Thank you.

Darren, Terry and the Shack Team

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