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