Portobello Cafe Society (PCS) sounds like a group who spend time sipping lattes and discussing poetry. Far from it. Set up by Sylvia Parnell and Claire Simmons, it is a non profit, networking and lobbying group which aims to support local independent businesses in Notting Hill and act as a positive intermediary between them and the council. It all started when Kitchen and Pantry were told by a rather over zealous enforcement officer to remove the tables and chairs it had on the pavement, even though the pub on the opposite corner was allowed to have tables and chairs thanks to a different and more lenient enforcement officer. Parnell and Simmons lobbied on behalf of the cafe and after six months of hard work managed to get the furniture reinstated, although it had to be the right shapes and immovable (small things). Other success stories to date have been saving the Kensington Park Hotel by having it designated as an Asset of Community Value for the next six months. Here, this old boozer was sold to a developer who planned to turn it into another block of flats (ABF) Parnell and Simmons helped lobby to keep it as a pub. It is now successfully run by the bloke who set up glasto who is turning into a great music venue – oh and the food is good too. Work is now underway to try and make this order permanent. PCS also helped get Blenheim Crescent closed to traffic for Small Business Saturday after the council had pretty much refused to do it. What a great group, just there to enable businesses to successfully communicate with the council, who sadly don’t seem overly inclined to help independent shops and the like in the Notting Hill area. Hmmm, subsidising rents, reducing business rates and supporting events for sole traders. Small shops are our community and we need to keep ’em going. To contact Portobello Cafe Society pop Sylvia or Claire in front of @portobellocafesociety.org.uk.