A petition has been launched calling on Eastbourne Borough Council to award the Wish Tower restaurant contract to a local catering firm, after Rick Stein is believed to have pulled out of negotiations to open a seafood restaurant at the site.
Following the rumours that Stein, believed to be the preferred operator for the site, had pulled out of the deal due to the EU Referendum result, a petition has been launched on Change.org for the contract to be given to local company Ambience Catering. Ambience previously submitted an application but was rejected.
The petition was set up four days ago and has since gained 215 signatures. Local actor Greg Draven, who set up the petition, said: "Buying local has never been more important than right now, especially after the EU Referendum. In light of the unexpected U-turn from the preferred operator chosen to run the new Wish Tower restaurant, we petition Eastbourne Borough Council to award the contract to a company local to Eastbourne - Ambience Catering.
"Ambience Catering are the very essence of buying local. Awarding the contract to Ambience will mean money will stay in the local area and boost the economy further," he added.
Ambience owner Gary Williams told the http://www.eastbourneindependent.co.uk/news/14601195._Forget_Rick_Stein___sign_the_petition_so_I_can_run_the_new_destination_restaurant_along_Eastbourne_seafront_/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Eastbourne Independenthe would operate a daytime brasserie with a high quality restaurant in the evening at the site.
He said: "Give me the chance and I will make this place a national award-winner. They [Eastbourne council] turned Ambience down because allegedly we don't have enough experience of running restaurants, which is total rubbish. I have 14 years' experience in catering. I will give it a go.
A spokesperson for the council confirmed it had been in advanced negotiations with a preferred operator for the restaurant but, in light of the EU Referendum result, the operator withdrew from the process. They added the council "would not make any further statement pending a re-evaluation of all the options open to the authority at this time".