A mum from Southend On Sea has been describing her anger to Southend News Network about being ‘forced’ to leave a popular seafront cafe because the manager has BANNED DUMMIES for young children and babies, along with ‘teething toys’ and other similar accessories.

Joanna Thomas, 24, contacted our Chief Reporter after visiting Thames Point Café on Western Esplanade on Monday 24th July for a cup of tea – she also wanted to buy an ice cream for 11-month-old daughter Chloe to enjoy in the warm weather.

She said: ‘I queued up at the window with Chloe as I wanted to sit on one of their outside tables and look out to sea, and as usual she had a dummy in her mouth like so many other kids of her age. Before I could even give the manager my order, she told me that I would have to remove the dummy from her mouth before sitting down with our food and drink.’

The sign in the serving window at Thames Point Cafe, informing parents that no dummies are allowed at their tables.
The sign in the serving window at Thames Point Cafe, informing parents that no dummies are allowed at their tables.

‘I thought I had misheard her, but she just pointed at the printed sign in the window and said that it was all about Health and Safety. I tried to tell her that she was being ridiculous, but she very firmly told me that as the manager it was her decision to stop babies and young children from using dummies while eating and drinking.’

‘She said that it was to control infections and bacteria on her premises, and when I refused to remove the dummy from Chloe’s mouth she informed me that I would have to leave. Chloe was screaming by this point as she was really looking forward to having an ice cream – it’s disgusting that a cafe can treat parents and their young children in this way.’

Mum Joanna Thomas and Chloe were forced to eat elsewhere after the manager of Thames Point Cafe asked them to leave.
Mum Joanna Thomas and Chloe were forced to eat elsewhere after the manager of Thames Point Cafe asked them to leave.

We contacted Thames Point Cafe, and the manager Sue Hemmington emailed our Newsdesk to explain why the ban has been introduced.

She said: ‘All catering businesses in Southend On Sea have to comply with incredibly strict guidelines relating to hygiene, and after our recent inspection graded us as a ‘3’ out of 5 we were left with no choice but to tighten up our rules.’

‘When babies and toddlers are constantly removing dummies, putting them down, dropping them on the floor, and then putting them back in their mouths, they are constantly moving potentially lethal bacteria from one place to another. This is made even more dangerous by the fact that we allow dogs to sit outside with their owners.’

‘We have also had a number of complaints from our regular customers about noisy and badly-behaved children, and in my personal opinion our cafe is encouraging positive behaviour reinforcement by stopping them from using dummies and teething toys. If parents are not prepared to abide by this rule, it is with regret that we will be forced to ask them to leave.’

A spokesperson for Southend Borough Council said that on-site rules and regulations are ultimately down to a site’s owners and management.

Kim Nhap-Kin, Southend’s Chief Officer for Catering Outlet Regulation said: ‘Every cafe owner in Southend has to strike a balance that will allow all customers to enjoy their food and drink safely. We are unable to discuss whether or not this rule about dummies and pacifiers will improve a site’s Health and Safety score, but at the same time we must insist that all owners and managers make their expectations of parents perfectly clear.’