Parents’ fury at Leeds cafe-bar’s ‘pram ban’

Cath Lill and children Esme  Xander and baby Naomi. 100508b Picture Steve Riding
Cath Lill and children Esme Xander and baby Naomi. 100508b Picture Steve Riding
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PARENTS in a north Leeds suburb have been left outraged by a controversial ‘pram ban’ imposed at a local cafe-bar.

Seven Arts, in Chapel Allerton, has introduced a strict “no prams” policy, with a sign featuring a picture of a pram with an angry red line through it.

pram ban sign - see story by debbie leigh

pram ban sign - see story by debbie leigh

The notice advises parents using the cafe-bar to leave all pushchairs in the foyer “or outside” meaning those whose babies are asleep are effectively barred from the premises – unless they choose to leave their buggy-bound child at the door.

Chapel Allerton mum-of-two Jodie Minett said she was “disgusted” by the ban.

The 34-year-old had planned to eat lunch at Seven Arts with her husband, three-year-old son Billy and eight-month-old Tommy but said they had barely set foot inside when they were told they were breaking the rules.

“We saw the sign saying no pushchairs but Tommy was asleep in it so we opened the door to go in but a member of staff just shouted over ‘you can’t bring pushchairs in’ – so we walked straight out.”

She added: “It’s touted as a family-friendly place but it’s quite the opposite. I wouldn’t go back.”

Furious Cath Lill said she was shocked by the venue’s “zero tolerance” stance.

The mum-of-three, from Shadwell, said she was reading the menu at the bar when a staff member said: “You’re not allowed that in here, you need to go and put that by the door.”

She was able to detach the car seat holding her sleeping five-week-old daughter from the pram wheels and move the wheels section to the lobby.

Mrs Lill said: “I was the only buggy-owner in the place, there was hardly anyone there.

“I was on my own with a little baby and two other children and she watched me unpack the pram, take all three children and my handbag with me to the lobby then take all three children back again.”

She added: “I felt really upset at the time but I was really angry afterwards and haven’t been back since.”

The 40-year-old said: “I can understand why they put restrictions on pram numbers but if it’s quiet, as when I went, there should be some flexibility rather than this zero tolerance approach.”

Mrs Lill said many of her friends now boycotted Seven in favour of more child-friendly places.

Penny Sanders, company secretary of Seven Arts, said the policy had prompted lots of complaints but had been brought in to keep customers safe.

She said staff had counted 13 prams on one occasion.

“There was a health and safety issue because people were carrying hot drinks and food to their tables and staff couldn’t move safely.

“We were constantly worried someone was going to spill a hot drink over someone.

“It just became unsafe.”

She said a flexible approach had failed so it was a blanket ban.

The mum-of-three added: “I can’t really see the issue.”

The ban does not affect families using the performance space.

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