A proposal that would have seen local knitwear company BAKKA operate out of a van in the centre of Lerwick has been rejected by the council’s licensing committee.
The meeting heard from the company’s owner, Mary Macgregor, who had hoped to sell her brand of Fair-Isle knitwear from a long wheel-based van from one of two potential sites along the Lerwick esplanade.
Dr Macgregor’s preferred site was in Irvine Place just off from Commercial Street, which had raised concerns about its proximity to Anderson & Co.
Four objections had been raised to the proposal, with Living Lerwick saying that it was their “responsibility to keep the town centre a viable and vibrant business area”, which they felt would be challenged by having another knitwear company so close to existing operators such as Anderson & Co, Ninian and Aurora.
All three of those shops had also raised objections to the plans.
Dr Macgregor said that her knitwear was “totally different to what everyone else is doing” and that it was “exhausting” to continually have to assemble and dismantle her current stall in Harrison Square.
She said that “Living Lerwick is scared I’m stealing sales”.
While councillors agreed that her product was unique, councillor Alastair Cooper said that is was a “similar class” to products that other knitwear companies were offering, something that Anderson & Co include in their objection.
Councillors echoed the concerns of the objectors, saying that this van would operate within 50 metres of current premises, which went against their current provision on street traders licences.
Committee chairman Ian Scott asked Dr Macgregor if she would be willing to accept a permit for her second choice of location, which was in front of the old Spinning Wheel shop.
But she said that proposal “would not appeal to me at all”, and that she would have to reverse her van either into this space or out onto a busy road.
SIC convener Malcolm Bell said that the problem with her application was that “it does fall foul of our general conditions”.
Mr Bell voted to reject the application which Mr Cooper seconded, although they did both make reference to the need for the SIC to review and possibly change their conditions on similar classes of products.
Councillor Catherine Hughson voted to make an amendment to the application to approve her licence for one year with a review on their conditions to come during that time.
Vice-chairman George Smith seconded this proposal.
However, the amendment was voted down by two votes to four, and the application was rejected.
Dr Macgregor told the committee that she was “extremely disappointed” in their decision, and added once the meeting was concluded that: “all I can say is it’s very difficult to be the first person”.
After the meeting Dr Macgregor said that she was disappointed to lose her proposal on “conditions that are no longer fit for purpose”.
She asked: “what’s the difference between where I’m trading now?”
She has said that she will appeal the decision.