A SMALL business owner facing the closure of his café is receiving overwhelming support from Ealing residents and prominent local figures in a bid to save it.

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition to save the independent Spencer’s Café in Walpole Park, with unusual cross-party support from Labour MP Rupa Huq, Conservatives’ Zac Goldsmith, and Lib Dem leader Vince Cable.

Owner Alan Dillon, 54, has sold organic coffee and homemade cakes at the kiosk for the past nine years, but will have to leave by January 31 if the new landlords’ decision to bring in new tenants is not overturned.

Mr Dillon said: “When I heard about the decision, I was utterly devastated and actually really insulted.

“Your customers become your friends over the years. I’ve been serving the parents of children in pushchairs and their kids are now in the park kicking a ball around – we’re part of the community.

“I was, and am, absolutely distraught.”

The Ealing Council contract for Spencer’s Café expires at the end of January, and new landlords, who are trustees at the Pitzhanger Manor House and Gallery Trust, invited Mr Dillon to apply to renew his contract with them by a tender process.

However, when Mr Dillon did so, his application failed in the first stage and as a result he will have to vacate his business for new owners when they are appointed.

He said: “I got a second-hand email from the director, which said sorry for the judgement, but there was a very strong contingent and my application was not strong enough.”

Spencer’s Café, which is open 365 days a year, employs two full-time staff and is a well-known a community hub that also provides free food to rough sleepers.

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, chair of the Pitzhanger Manor House and Gallery Trust, said: "Alan has known for more than two years that the Trust is legally obliged to run a fair and open competition to choose the new caterers for the kiosk as well as for the Garden Room café.

“Sadly, his bid just didn't stack up against the others, including others from young entrepreneurial businesses.

“The Trust has offered repeatedly to meet Alan to explain to him, within the limits of commercial confidentiality, why his bid was not as strong as the others.

“Eleven of the Trust's 12 members are local Ealing people.

“None us has any intention of granting the contract to a ‘faceless high street chain’.

“We are committed to offering park users great food for good value."

A statement from the Pitzhanger Manor House and Gallery Trust says: “We understand Alan Dillon’s disappointment that he was not successful in this competitive tender process, but the Trust followed carefully a publicised tender process.”

An Ealing Council spokesperson said: “The council made Mr Dillon aware of plans to transfer management of the Rickyard to the Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery Trust three years ago.

“At this time he was also made aware that his current lease to operate the kiosk would expire on 31 January 2018. The Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust is managing the tender process and will make the decision on which operator manages the kiosk.”