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Cafe Britannia in Norwich: the story so far

PUBLISHED: 13:06 31 August 2019 | UPDATED: 13:42 31 August 2019

Britannia Cafe in Britannia Road, Norwich, closed on Friday, August 30. Picture: Archant

Britannia Cafe in Britannia Road, Norwich, closed on Friday, August 30. Picture: Archant

Archant

News of Cafe Britannia and Park Britannia closing down have rocked the headlines this week, prompting citywide support to save them.

Café Park Britannia at Waterloo Park was saved from closing in a last-minute deal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCafé Park Britannia at Waterloo Park was saved from closing in a last-minute deal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Here are all the developments of the story so far:

- On Wednesday, August 28, the cafe announced it would close down by the end of the week with 50 jobs to go with it.

Staff were told the café, which helps convicts both serving time in HMP Norwich and after their release, would shut up shop on Friday of this week.

Management at the social enterprise were served a notice by the Ministry of Justice ordering its closure.

Cafe Britannia at Norwich Prison closed on Friday, August 30. Picture: ArchantCafe Britannia at Norwich Prison closed on Friday, August 30. Picture: Archant

Park Britannia, a sister project based in Waterloo Park, also announced it would close.

MORE: Cafes to close with 50 staff set to lose jobs

- Following the announcement, a petition was launched in a bid to save the cafes.

It reached more than 3,000 signatures by Thursday morning and a Facebook group named 'Save Cafe Britannia' accrued more than 1,000 members.

Britannia Cafe, overlooking Mousehold Heath, has closed its doors. Photo: ArchantBritannia Cafe, overlooking Mousehold Heath, has closed its doors. Photo: Archant

MORE: More than 3,000 people sign petition to save prison cafe

- On Thursday, it was revealed the cafe is being investigated by police in relation to fraud.

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A man in his 60s was interviewed under caution and released under investigation.

Britannia Cafe, overlooking Mousehold Heath, has closed its doors. Photo: ArchantBritannia Cafe, overlooking Mousehold Heath, has closed its doors. Photo: Archant

A police spokesman confirmed to this newspaper that it had an ongoing accounting fraud investigation relating to Cafe Britannia dating back to 2018.

MORE: Police investigate fraud allegation at Café Britannia

- A look into the financial troubles of Britannia Enterprises, which owns the cafes, revealed the crippling debt the business owed to creditors.

In the most recent accounts from 2017, the company was £384,000 in debt and also owed £91,640 in tax and social security.

Cafe Britannia in the former prison officers mess, that offered work to inmates from Norwich Prison, has closed. Photo: Steve AdamsCafe Britannia in the former prison officers mess, that offered work to inmates from Norwich Prison, has closed. Photo: Steve Adams

The accounts also show nearly £70,000 was paid out for "the provision of services by the chief executive".

MORE: Stricken cafe owed £380,000 but boss insists government is to blame for closure

- Just a day before it was set to shut, the Park Britannia was saved from closure after a deal was struck between the owners and Norwich City Council.

On Thursday, it was decided the cafe would remain open until new tenants were found, saving a number of jobs in the meantime.

Cafe Britannia owner Davina Tanner. Picture: Matt Keal / mattkealphotographyCafe Britannia owner Davina Tanner. Picture: Matt Keal / mattkealphotography

MORE: Cafe saved day before it was due to close

- Despite efforts to keep the cafe open, Cafe Britannia shut its doors on Friday after five years of business.

Customers who arrived at the cafe in the morning found the gates were locked with a sign reading: "sincere apologies, we are now closed, thank you all for your support".

MORE: Disappointment as popular prison café shuts its doors

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