The owner and staff at a popular cafe turned up for work this week only to find bailiffs had closed the premises and changed the locks.
Tea Beside the Sea, a much-loved venue situated on The Colonnade, had a lease which ended on Tuesday (October 31).
Its owner, Janet Van Den Bussche, wanted Rother District Council to give her extra time to wind down her business but the authority refused. She said she was upset with the council, saying the authority had not given her enough time to tie up everything and vacate.
Janet said: “We told the council we couldn’t move out within two weeks after being told we had to leave.
“My staff turned up for work on Wednesday morning (November 1) to find The Colonnade barricaded and a notice telling us not to enter.
“All of our stuff is still inside the premises, such as takings. All of the locks have also been changed.”
In August 2015, more than 1,500 people signed two petitions in support of Tea Beside the Sea staying.
A Rother District Council spokesman said: “The end date of the lease for the Colonnade cafe was October 31 and the tenant was always aware this was the case.
“After cabinet agreed the awarding of a long-term lease to the new tenant and the call-in period passed, we formally notified Ms Buscche that we would require her to hand over the keys on October 31. We also kept her fully informed of the processes we went through leading up to this notification.
“Unfortunately, Ms Buscche advised us she would not hand over the keys, so arrangements were made to change the locks, as we are entitled to do as the property owner, and this was carried out with immediate effect.
“We are advising Ms Buscche that over the next few weeks she will have time to clear her possessions from the premises and asking her to contact us to arrange access at a convenient time for her. We need to ensure we have access to the property promptly so that fitting out can be carried out in good time to allow the new tenant to begin operating next year.”