'I feel victimised' - owner of Usk restaurant, La Cantina in lights row

South Wales Argus: ANGRY: Sally Smith, of La Cantina restaurant in Bridge Street, Usk ANGRY: Sally Smith, of La Cantina restaurant in Bridge Street, Usk

AN USK restaurant owner says she feels victimised after being forced to remove outdoor lights from her premises when they are in use elsewhere in the town.

Sally Smith, who runs La Cantina Bistro and Restaurant, removed five swan neck lights outside the property’s entrance on Bridge Street last Friday after Monmouthshire council threatened to take court action.

But Mrs Smith says many other premises in the town are using them, as well as others in Monmouth, Caldicot and Chepstow.

She said: “I just feel totally victimised. I take it personally, our business has been singled out and it’s not fair.

“Why me? It’s just not on.”

Mrs Smith, who also runs a South African shop, Biltong2u Ltd in Llancayo Court, has now written to the authority’s planning department to highlight the matter and ask if other premises will be forced to remove their lights. As earlier reported, council planning officers said the lights, which cost La Cantina £1,000, are unlawful because they do not have planning permission and are unsuitable within the Usk Conservation Area.

She was asked to take them down or face prosecution in the magistrates’ court, which could have resulted in a £2,500 penalty.

George Ashworth, Monmouthshire council’s head of planning, said: “Lighting is a sensitive subject in conservation areas such as Usk. If it’s not needed for safety purposes in a historic setting it should preferably be unobtrusive.

“Wenormally try to negotiate and seek enforcement action only as a last resort. We also try to be even-handed so that if there are other examples of similar lighting in similar circumstances, officers will investigate their impact to see if enforcement action is merited.”

Comments (19)

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12:13pm Fri 20 Jul 12

Polly1234 says...

I commented on a previous story about La Cantina as they appear to have unnecessarily had a really hard time off the council recently, when really MCC should be supporting local businesses.
I was expecting to see this in the paper soon to be honest. It does seem very unfair, almost suspicious that La Cantina have been singled out. Most places in Usk have lighting outside, and have done for years: The King's Head, The Indian takeaway (and they're neon for goodness sake), The Fish and chip shop (and they have the same traditional swan neck lights too).
Outdoor lighting in Usk has never bothered me- it adds something to the places in my opinion. The council shouldn't make one rule for one establishment though and let other businesses off. Sure if you want to make a petty rule, but treat everywhere equally.
No doubt they regret targeting La Cantina now as it does make them look unfair. Now all the eateries in Usk will be upset with them, as surely they'll ALL have to remove they're outdoor lighting?
It's just so petty, they should be left to try and boost Usk's economy without being threatened about a few lights.
What makes it worse is that La Cantina always looks so immaculate and traditional- it really makes the high street look nice! And then there's that IT shop near them painted bright green!!
Sort yourself out MCC, you all seem a bit away with the fairies to me. Why not be strict about something that remotely matters- like the dozens of massive lorries knocking down the bridge and squeezing through the high street everyday.
I commented on a previous story about La Cantina as they appear to have unnecessarily had a really hard time off the council recently, when really MCC should be supporting local businesses. I was expecting to see this in the paper soon to be honest. It does seem very unfair, almost suspicious that La Cantina have been singled out. Most places in Usk have lighting outside, and have done for years: The King's Head, The Indian takeaway (and they're neon for goodness sake), The Fish and chip shop (and they have the same traditional swan neck lights too). Outdoor lighting in Usk has never bothered me- it adds something to the places in my opinion. The council shouldn't make one rule for one establishment though and let other businesses off. Sure if you want to make a petty rule, but treat everywhere equally. No doubt they regret targeting La Cantina now as it does make them look unfair. Now all the eateries in Usk will be upset with them, as surely they'll ALL have to remove they're outdoor lighting? It's just so petty, they should be left to try and boost Usk's economy without being threatened about a few lights. What makes it worse is that La Cantina always looks so immaculate and traditional- it really makes the high street look nice! And then there's that IT shop near them painted bright green!! Sort yourself out MCC, you all seem a bit away with the fairies to me. Why not be strict about something that remotely matters- like the dozens of massive lorries knocking down the bridge and squeezing through the high street everyday. Polly1234
  • Score: 0

12:42pm Fri 20 Jul 12

amp850 says...

I agree. What makes it annoying is it is TAX PAYERS money that pays for these idiots.
I agree. What makes it annoying is it is TAX PAYERS money that pays for these idiots. amp850
  • Score: 0

1:09pm Fri 20 Jul 12

SuperTonic7th says...

I totally agree. Not only that, there's a Spar a few doors down - very traditional!
One good thing that came out of the previous article was that I got curious and visited Usk and spent a very enjoyable evening at La Cantina.
I totally agree. Not only that, there's a Spar a few doors down - very traditional! One good thing that came out of the previous article was that I got curious and visited Usk and spent a very enjoyable evening at La Cantina. SuperTonic7th
  • Score: 0

1:30pm Fri 20 Jul 12

Polly1234 says...

I did exactly the same! I went for lunch with friends but then a group of us went for an evening meal a week later after seeing the sign about a set course.
The food and atmosphere was lovely I must say!
I'd just say to the owner that they are doing a great job, and don't let the council get you down. I think I speak for most locals when I say that!
I am interested to see how MCC will sort this out, I'm sure this won't be the last story The Argus publish about the issue- all the other places in Usk will be next if the council are fair about it. Either that or they'll have to pay La Cantina to have their lights put back up just like everywhere else.
I did exactly the same! I went for lunch with friends but then a group of us went for an evening meal a week later after seeing the sign about a set course. The food and atmosphere was lovely I must say! I'd just say to the owner that they are doing a great job, and don't let the council get you down. I think I speak for most locals when I say that! I am interested to see how MCC will sort this out, I'm sure this won't be the last story The Argus publish about the issue- all the other places in Usk will be next if the council are fair about it. Either that or they'll have to pay La Cantina to have their lights put back up just like everywhere else. Polly1234
  • Score: 0

1:41pm Fri 20 Jul 12

gmjones says...

Obviously the owner of this restaurant has got exactly what she wanted by running this story in the Argus – MORE CUSTOMERS – she clearly doesn’t care about a few lights there is a lamppost right next to the entrance...... victimised yeah right!!!
Obviously the owner of this restaurant has got exactly what she wanted by running this story in the Argus – MORE CUSTOMERS – she clearly doesn’t care about a few lights there is a lamppost right next to the entrance...... victimised yeah right!!! gmjones
  • Score: 0

1:54pm Fri 20 Jul 12

Polly1234 says...

gmjones wrote:
Obviously the owner of this restaurant has got exactly what she wanted by running this story in the Argus – MORE CUSTOMERS – she clearly doesn’t care about a few lights there is a lamppost right next to the entrance...... victimised yeah right!!!
I was already a customer actually- I've been going for years. It just urged me to support them and the general Usk area even more. I'm sure you would do the same after spending all that money on lights- I would! You can see it's unfair- they have clearly been singled out.
[quote][p][bold]gmjones[/bold] wrote: Obviously the owner of this restaurant has got exactly what she wanted by running this story in the Argus – MORE CUSTOMERS – she clearly doesn’t care about a few lights there is a lamppost right next to the entrance...... victimised yeah right!!![/p][/quote]I was already a customer actually- I've been going for years. It just urged me to support them and the general Usk area even more. I'm sure you would do the same after spending all that money on lights- I would! You can see it's unfair- they have clearly been singled out. Polly1234
  • Score: 0

2:27pm Fri 20 Jul 12

b3talover says...

Polly1234 wrote:
gmjones wrote:
Obviously the owner of this restaurant has got exactly what she wanted by running this story in the Argus – MORE CUSTOMERS – she clearly doesn’t care about a few lights there is a lamppost right next to the entrance...... victimised yeah right!!!
I was already a customer actually- I've been going for years. It just urged me to support them and the general Usk area even more. I'm sure you would do the same after spending all that money on lights- I would! You can see it's unfair- they have clearly been singled out.
I suspect you are the owner, Polly1234...
[quote][p][bold]Polly1234[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]gmjones[/bold] wrote: Obviously the owner of this restaurant has got exactly what she wanted by running this story in the Argus – MORE CUSTOMERS – she clearly doesn’t care about a few lights there is a lamppost right next to the entrance...... victimised yeah right!!![/p][/quote]I was already a customer actually- I've been going for years. It just urged me to support them and the general Usk area even more. I'm sure you would do the same after spending all that money on lights- I would! You can see it's unfair- they have clearly been singled out.[/p][/quote]I suspect you are the owner, Polly1234... b3talover
  • Score: 0

2:36pm Fri 20 Jul 12

Polly1234 says...

b3talover wrote:
Polly1234 wrote:
gmjones wrote:
Obviously the owner of this restaurant has got exactly what she wanted by running this story in the Argus – MORE CUSTOMERS – she clearly doesn’t care about a few lights there is a lamppost right next to the entrance...... victimised yeah right!!!
I was already a customer actually- I've been going for years. It just urged me to support them and the general Usk area even more. I'm sure you would do the same after spending all that money on lights- I would! You can see it's unfair- they have clearly been singled out.
I suspect you are the owner, Polly1234...
I swear to you I'm not b3talover, I just support local businesses, think the council should treat them equally and that lights on Usk restaurants are fine.
[quote][p][bold]b3talover[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Polly1234[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]gmjones[/bold] wrote: Obviously the owner of this restaurant has got exactly what she wanted by running this story in the Argus – MORE CUSTOMERS – she clearly doesn’t care about a few lights there is a lamppost right next to the entrance...... victimised yeah right!!![/p][/quote]I was already a customer actually- I've been going for years. It just urged me to support them and the general Usk area even more. I'm sure you would do the same after spending all that money on lights- I would! You can see it's unfair- they have clearly been singled out.[/p][/quote]I suspect you are the owner, Polly1234...[/p][/quote]I swear to you I'm not b3talover, I just support local businesses, think the council should treat them equally and that lights on Usk restaurants are fine. Polly1234
  • Score: 0

2:38pm Fri 20 Jul 12

amp850 says...

gmjones wrote:
Obviously the owner of this restaurant has got exactly what she wanted by running this story in the Argus – MORE CUSTOMERS – she clearly doesn’t care about a few lights there is a lamppost right next to the entrance...... victimised yeah right!!!
Surely that is the point of a business?

ps, in British English it is Lamp Post.

Good luck with your silly comments.
[quote][p][bold]gmjones[/bold] wrote: Obviously the owner of this restaurant has got exactly what she wanted by running this story in the Argus – MORE CUSTOMERS – she clearly doesn’t care about a few lights there is a lamppost right next to the entrance...... victimised yeah right!!![/p][/quote]Surely that is the point of a business? ps, in British English it is Lamp Post. Good luck with your silly comments. amp850
  • Score: 0

2:44pm Fri 20 Jul 12

SuperTonic7th says...

gmjones - why so bitter? Do you really think the owner has been fairly treated and that she's complaining for nothing?
gmjones - why so bitter? Do you really think the owner has been fairly treated and that she's complaining for nothing? SuperTonic7th
  • Score: 0

2:54pm Fri 20 Jul 12

On the inside says...

SuperTonic7th wrote:
gmjones - why so bitter? Do you really think the owner has been fairly treated and that she's complaining for nothing?
I do. If she had made even the smallesgt attempt to check planning regs she would have avoided all this. She would almost certainly have been able to reach agreement on new lights and had none on this. As for her pathetic attempts to get other Usk business into trouble, that is just childish. Has she checked if they have got planning consent. She seems unable to grasp this is not about lights, it is about planning regs that apply to all business's. If she does not understand this she is not fit to run a business and if she was intentionally ignoring the rules she deserves all she gets. Of course she may not agree with the rules in which case she is free to join the political party of her choice and campaign for them to be changed. I bet I can guess which party she would choose, in which case she is out of luck as they run Monmouthshire already and made these rules.
[quote][p][bold]SuperTonic7th[/bold] wrote: gmjones - why so bitter? Do you really think the owner has been fairly treated and that she's complaining for nothing?[/p][/quote]I do. If she had made even the smallesgt attempt to check planning regs she would have avoided all this. She would almost certainly have been able to reach agreement on new lights and had none on this. As for her pathetic attempts to get other Usk business into trouble, that is just childish. Has she checked if they have got planning consent. She seems unable to grasp this is not about lights, it is about planning regs that apply to all business's. If she does not understand this she is not fit to run a business and if she was intentionally ignoring the rules she deserves all she gets. Of course she may not agree with the rules in which case she is free to join the political party of her choice and campaign for them to be changed. I bet I can guess which party she would choose, in which case she is out of luck as they run Monmouthshire already and made these rules. On the inside
  • Score: 0

10:01pm Fri 20 Jul 12

CM1 says...

On the inside, are you serious; trying to make a party political point out of this story??? Councillors tend to be self serving, whichever party they worship. You are clearly party political. Personally, I am able to think for myself and consider a point on merit. Are you a councillor?
On the inside, are you serious; trying to make a party political point out of this story??? Councillors tend to be self serving, whichever party they worship. You are clearly party political. Personally, I am able to think for myself and consider a point on merit. Are you a councillor? CM1
  • Score: 0

4:23pm Sat 21 Jul 12

amp850 says...

On the inside wrote:
SuperTonic7th wrote:
gmjones - why so bitter? Do you really think the owner has been fairly treated and that she's complaining for nothing?
I do. If she had made even the smallesgt attempt to check planning regs she would have avoided all this. She would almost certainly have been able to reach agreement on new lights and had none on this. As for her pathetic attempts to get other Usk business into trouble, that is just childish. Has she checked if they have got planning consent. She seems unable to grasp this is not about lights, it is about planning regs that apply to all business's. If she does not understand this she is not fit to run a business and if she was intentionally ignoring the rules she deserves all she gets. Of course she may not agree with the rules in which case she is free to join the political party of her choice and campaign for them to be changed. I bet I can guess which party she would choose, in which case she is out of luck as they run Monmouthshire already and made these rules.
You are clearly on the planning board. How is it fair? Call me Mr Fussy Trousers but this lady has put up lights - the same lights that other restaurants have, she gets told to take them down (if you look in the previous article) and told she will not get planning permission as they are not suitable for the area. Other restaurants still have them up....
If it was me I would take the same course of action regardless of whether they have planning permission or not.
[quote][p][bold]On the inside[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SuperTonic7th[/bold] wrote: gmjones - why so bitter? Do you really think the owner has been fairly treated and that she's complaining for nothing?[/p][/quote]I do. If she had made even the smallesgt attempt to check planning regs she would have avoided all this. She would almost certainly have been able to reach agreement on new lights and had none on this. As for her pathetic attempts to get other Usk business into trouble, that is just childish. Has she checked if they have got planning consent. She seems unable to grasp this is not about lights, it is about planning regs that apply to all business's. If she does not understand this she is not fit to run a business and if she was intentionally ignoring the rules she deserves all she gets. Of course she may not agree with the rules in which case she is free to join the political party of her choice and campaign for them to be changed. I bet I can guess which party she would choose, in which case she is out of luck as they run Monmouthshire already and made these rules.[/p][/quote]You are clearly on the planning board. How is it fair? Call me Mr Fussy Trousers but this lady has put up lights - the same lights that other restaurants have, she gets told to take them down (if you look in the previous article) and told she will not get planning permission as they are not suitable for the area. Other restaurants still have them up.... If it was me I would take the same course of action regardless of whether they have planning permission or not. amp850
  • Score: 0

10:19pm Tue 24 Jul 12

Dee-Gee says...

It seems perfectly reasonable that the lady assumed the lights would be OK if other businesses have them up, rather than wading through reams of planning regulations.

She's got a business to run, for heaven's sake - the rule of common sense applies when deciding how to use your time (and there's never enough of it, either)
It seems perfectly reasonable that the lady assumed the lights would be OK if other businesses have them up, rather than wading through reams of planning regulations. She's got a business to run, for heaven's sake - the rule of common sense applies when deciding how to use your time (and there's never enough of it, either) Dee-Gee
  • Score: 0

7:44pm Thu 26 Jul 12

rocky50 says...

We live in an AONB took 2 years for us to get planning permission because of visual impairment for something that can not be seen! Next door got permission to service vehicles 0600-2200 and to store building materials, all retrospectively. And all this permission was granted ILLEGALLY. We took it to Judicial Review. This has cost us rate payers some £25-30,000. Now MCC are refusing to Enforce. Since then further development has taken place They have signs all over the place in red and white including one 6foot X 4 foot despite a public footpath running though the site. They have cut down the 40 foot trees protecting the site, tarmaced over an open field, erected 10 foot gates, and have installed 4 shipping containers. Broken the hours conditions, and hieght for storage conditions, piled up earth into banks. And MCC will not take enforcemnt action???? And yet look how they've come down on you! Personally I think the lights are not only non offensive but add to the charcter of the property. We are contemplating another JR to get it enforced. Just shows the level of corruption in Paul Mathew's(CEO) MCC. This is rate payers money they are wasting, why is there not one rule for ALL?????
We live in an AONB took 2 years for us to get planning permission because of visual impairment for something that can not be seen! Next door got permission to service vehicles 0600-2200 and to store building materials, all retrospectively. And all this permission was granted ILLEGALLY. We took it to Judicial Review. This has cost us rate payers some £25-30,000. Now MCC are refusing to Enforce. Since then further development has taken place They have signs all over the place in red and white including one 6foot X 4 foot despite a public footpath running though the site. They have cut down the 40 foot trees protecting the site, tarmaced over an open field, erected 10 foot gates, and have installed 4 shipping containers. Broken the hours conditions, and hieght for storage conditions, piled up earth into banks. And MCC will not take enforcemnt action???? And yet look how they've come down on you! Personally I think the lights are not only non offensive but add to the charcter of the property. We are contemplating another JR to get it enforced. Just shows the level of corruption in Paul Mathew's(CEO) MCC. This is rate payers money they are wasting, why is there not one rule for ALL????? rocky50
  • Score: 0

9:56pm Thu 26 Jul 12

CM1 says...

Hmmmm, that sounds very typical of MCC. They allow certain businesses to do what they like and will simply ignore their own policies regarding permitted uses. All people ask is for the Council to enforce the planning laws and to be equitable and just to all parties. Unfortunately, MCC is not capable of doing this. Policies are decided and enforced on the basis of personality and personal interest.
Hmmmm, that sounds very typical of MCC. They allow certain businesses to do what they like and will simply ignore their own policies regarding permitted uses. All people ask is for the Council to enforce the planning laws and to be equitable and just to all parties. Unfortunately, MCC is not capable of doing this. Policies are decided and enforced on the basis of personality and personal interest. CM1
  • Score: 0

6:30am Fri 27 Jul 12

Hevsym says...

At the end of the day, the law is the law and if planning permission is needed then everybody has to have it. If you want to build an extension and do it without planning permission and building regs then you have to pull it down: the same applies to lighting. If this argument is about planning permission not having been applied for I wonder why this lady thinkls she can be the only business owner that can be exempt from having planning permission when the other businesses have gone along with the law. One person or business cannot be allowed to get away with it. We all have to stick to the law and no-one is above it. I cannot understand why a responsible business person would put up lights without permission.
Finally, this is just my opinion, I have never eaten in Usk, and I am not on any council or committee.
At the end of the day, the law is the law and if planning permission is needed then everybody has to have it. If you want to build an extension and do it without planning permission and building regs then you have to pull it down: the same applies to lighting. If this argument is about planning permission not having been applied for I wonder why this lady thinkls she can be the only business owner that can be exempt from having planning permission when the other businesses have gone along with the law. One person or business cannot be allowed to get away with it. We all have to stick to the law and no-one is above it. I cannot understand why a responsible business person would put up lights without permission. Finally, this is just my opinion, I have never eaten in Usk, and I am not on any council or committee. Hevsym
  • Score: 0

9:43am Fri 27 Jul 12

rocky50 says...

CM1 wrote:
Hmmmm, that sounds very typical of MCC. They allow certain businesses to do what they like and will simply ignore their own policies regarding permitted uses. All people ask is for the Council to enforce the planning laws and to be equitable and just to all parties. Unfortunately, MCC is not capable of doing this. Policies are decided and enforced on the basis of personality and personal interest.
This is excactly it. There would be no problem if MCC followed the law, they simply do not. They show a clear bias for some and against others. It would be different if you could sue the individals working at MCC for there actions. Instead they are protected as a whole,they use ratepayers money to defend against the ratepayers they have a duty to protect! In fact according to Paula Clarke MCC ead of enforcement , they will not enforce whilst an application is being considered( this is illegal but hey what differance does this make to MCC?)so I suggest "la Cantina" puts in for permission nd will be able to keep the lights for up to 2 yaers whilst negotiations takes place, she may even get the permisssion!
[quote][p][bold]CM1[/bold] wrote: Hmmmm, that sounds very typical of MCC. They allow certain businesses to do what they like and will simply ignore their own policies regarding permitted uses. All people ask is for the Council to enforce the planning laws and to be equitable and just to all parties. Unfortunately, MCC is not capable of doing this. Policies are decided and enforced on the basis of personality and personal interest.[/p][/quote]This is excactly it. There would be no problem if MCC followed the law, they simply do not. They show a clear bias for some and against others. It would be different if you could sue the individals working at MCC for there actions. Instead they are protected as a whole,they use ratepayers money to defend against the ratepayers they have a duty to protect! In fact according to Paula Clarke MCC ead of enforcement , they will not enforce whilst an application is being considered( this is illegal but hey what differance does this make to MCC?)so I suggest "la Cantina" puts in for permission nd will be able to keep the lights for up to 2 yaers whilst negotiations takes place, she may even get the permisssion! rocky50
  • Score: 0

2:20pm Fri 27 Jul 12

J_davies05 says...

Having worked for MCC in the past, I can say that this sounds exactly right up their street - singling out honest businesses and then trying to bring them down like the rest. I often travel through Usk on my way to work (fortunately not for MCC anymore) and the place is a disgrace - boarded up shops and nothing, now you get something decent and MCC strike again. Good luck La Cantina and well done for fighting back.
Having worked for MCC in the past, I can say that this sounds exactly right up their street - singling out honest businesses and then trying to bring them down like the rest. I often travel through Usk on my way to work (fortunately not for MCC anymore) and the place is a disgrace - boarded up shops and nothing, now you get something decent and MCC strike again. Good luck La Cantina and well done for fighting back. J_davies05
  • Score: 0

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