An angry coffee shop owner claims he is being forced out of business by a train company.
Trevor Braddick, who part-owns the Coffee Gap at Leighton Buzzard train station says London Midland are forcing him to close the shop after 23 years.
The contract to run a coffee shop in the premises came up for tender in March.
But Trevor – who owns the business with three other partners – says the train company had already decided to let the Giardino chain run a coffee shop there.
He said: “Before this year we just renewed the lease periodically but this time around London Midland decided that they wanted to put it out for tender.
“I have no problem with that as it’s their premises but what angers me is the fact that they seemed to have chosen to bring in Giardino before they started the re-tendering process. It was a foregone conclusion really.”
He added: “We offered at least as much money as them in terms of rent – much more than we have paid before – but they just haven’t been interested in talking to us.
Trevor believes it is the customers who have the most to lose.
He said: “It is well known that Giardino’s prices are much higher than ours across the board.
“It seems that London Midland have decided they want Giardino to run all of the coffee shops at their stations and they’re not bothered about the independents like ourselves.
“There isn’t much we can do though as the lease stands outside the Landlord & Tenant Act which doesn’t give us many rights.”
Angry customers and staff at the Coffee Gap have now started a petition to save the shop, which will be sent on to London Midland by Trevor.
A London Midland spokesman said: “The decision was taken to test the market and issue a competitive tender on expiry of the current lease. London Midland instructed its property agents to carry out the exercise and awarded the contract to the successful operator following that process”.