A BUSINESS owner who opened a coffee shop during the pandemic has been left baffled by mystery bike racks outside his premises.

George Mitchell, who runs Mitchell's Travel and Never Just Coffee in London Road, Bognor, has been trying to work out who owns the cycle racks in the street directly in front of his businesses for months.

The travel firm boss, who took over the derelict premises last year and renovated the site - despite the challenges of the pandemic - wants to move the cycle racks a few metres down the street so he can lay out more tables and chairs for customers.

He has approached Bognor Town Council, Arun District Council and West Sussex County Council several times but so far, no local authority has been able to say who is responsible for the bike racks.

George said: "Councils are meant to be making it easier for businesses to use their outside space.

"We applied for eight tables and 16 chairs, but were told we can only put out four tables and eight chairs because the bike racks are in the way.

"Other cafes in the street have got up to 15 tables outside.

"I've been trying to work out who owns the bike racks since March and must have made about 30 calls to councils, but no-one will take ownership.

"We need bike racks - I just want to move them a few metres down the street. I've even offered to pay to move them but have been told no.

"It's laughable."

George, who previously ran a successful travel business from home, took over the previously empty space in London Road in December last year and opened a coffee shop next door to boost his income amid Covid-19.

He said: "We've lived in Bognor 18 years and we love it. We want to help breathe life into the town centre after what have been a very destructive year or so caused by lockdown.

"We took the plunge and renovated the space ourselves at great expense.

"Now all we are asking for is a bit joined-up thinking.

"If we can put out more tables and chairs and cater for more al fresco customers it'll be a boon to our trade and for the shoppers and their overall experience.

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"We need to utilise as much of the coffee shop as we possibly can with the restrictions to travel. It's crazy as it's summer and we could be using the space.

"I just hope at least I can get an answer from one of the councils so we know where we stand.”

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “The bicycle racks were provided for the community as part of an Arun District Council town centre enhancement scheme: they are maintained by West Sussex County Council as part of the highway.

“We recognise many businesses across the county have been hit hard by the impact of Covid-19 and continue to work with our district and borough partners to offer them as much support, advice and information as possible.

"We also support sustainable transport and active travel initiatives: any proposal to relocate the cycle racks will need consultation first with all the stakeholders involved, including cyclists, and a suitable alternative location to have been identified.”