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Petitioning Newham Council and 1 other

Save The Rabbit Hole for YOUR community

The Rabbit Hole is your community led, wonderland themed coffee shop that sells nearly new children’s clothes alongside hand crafted items made by local mums, slings, soft leather shoes and Bigjigs wooden toys. It is full of play areas from a library corner to a private 'front room space' for the under twos with ball pool and play tents. There is also a kitchen, dress up clothes, moon sand and arts and crafts and board games for older children and adults.


After training at Great Ormond Street Hospital and following a successful 17 year career as a children’s nurse and special needs childminder, The Rabbit Hole was opened by Nicci and her baby in May 2014. It was started with the help of a Kickstarter crowd funding project and has continued to be community led with customers choosing everything from the coffee to the activities put on, such as Family Yoga and the popular disco for the under-threes.

With her years of experience with families and a mother and step mother herself Nicci has proven that, with the help of the community, she knows exactly what carers of children need from their high street. The Rabbit Hole is run as a sole trader and as such can be the voice of every person who enters into it. If they want to put on their own music class the next day they can. If they want us to throw them a winter wonderland disco for all the we will!

The Rabbit Hole is space to MEET, EAT but also to just BE. While children are entertained adults can relax and laugh together not only at our monthly pamper day, but Monday to Saturday, rain or shine, term time, or holiday. Happy adults reflect happiness in the children they care for and the next generation learns how to be caring, contented adults in a connected community regardless of postcode, social status, colour or religious belief. Places for children have their place, of course, but sometimes adults need time and space to discuss what they want and who they are and how that is separate from being a parent. They want to take their child to a place where they don't have to be quiet all the time and be named 'mummy' by other adults. But, they also don't want the guilt of never letting their child run free from the pushchair either.

In eight months The Rabbit Hole has amassed hundreds and hundreds of avid fans, but not the ones it needs. Sir Robin Wales encouraged Nicci to open the place in the first place when she gauged public interest through Kickstarter. He approached her about a meeting to discuss how to encourage other like minded enterprises in the area; only to ignore her messages and point her at Newham Business Desk when such a meeting was suggested after his successful re-election.

Having got their details from the business desk, Newham rates department ignored Nicci's messages to explain the rates system; when there was a chance for her to change premises. Then six months later they send a bill for £7,000, with out an explanation of the figure, and the requirement for it to be paid immediately minus £900 small business relief. In that six months Nicci had been led to believe by other small businesses that Newham would pay the rates for her as they do for them. Upon countless conversations she eventually discovered that the difference between herself and others is size; as they counted all areas, even the baby changing room, as retail space. Having taken weeks to discover this the bill turned to red and an instalment of £1,250 has not been enough to keep the bailiffs from being informed only 3 months from receiving the bill and 6 weeks from making a payment. As a note the letter arrived as an awful Christmas present when everyone at the rates department was on holiday!

We call for The Rabbit Hole to be recognised as a needed community space on Stratford's high street. We call for Newham to exercise it's power in offering discretionary relief on Business rates in light of The Rabbit Hole not making a profit and already paying the council to collect its bins at £2 a bag. We also call for them to do everything they can to make its financial situation less precarious in return for complete accounts transparency from The Rabbit Hole.

It not only provides a space for all, but it also makes money for all through selling nearly new clothes on behalf of parents; gifts and handmade items on behalf of local manufacturers and through its running events and activities via local franchise business owners, or individuals. Thank you.

PLEASE SHARE this petition far and wide, as following my countless warm messages of support I truly believe everything is possible!

 

This petition was delivered to:
  • Newham Council
  • Mayor of Newham

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