Bakka van granted street trading licence on appeal

The Bakka knitwear van has been granted a street trading licence to trade from two sites in Lerwick town centre.

At a lengthy, and at times fraught, meeting on Monday morning the council’s licensing committee decided to grant Mary Macgregor a licence to trade from a site in front of the M&Co. building and from Charlotte Place next to the Thule Bar.

Her preferred site at Irvine Place was rejected on the grounds that her van would be trading within 50 metres of shops selling goods of a “similar class” to her own.

Confusion reigned at the meeting with some councillors, and Dr Macgregor, unsure of what they were being asked to consider.

Solicitor Paul Wishart explained that the committee were being asked to “reconsider” their decision to refuse her original application in June last year, and to debate the application as if it was “the first time” they had heard it.

But Dr Macgregor insisted that this had not been made clear to her.

She said that she was “unprepared” and that she “was not told” that this was the format that the meeting would take. At one point she apologised to the committee and said she was “totally confused by how this is proceeding”.

Vice-chairman George Smith said that he could “understand” Dr Macgregor’s confusion, adding that he was also “totally confused” at what action the committee was asked to take.

After Dr Macgregor was allowed to put her argument across for the granting of the licence, she met questions from council convener Malcolm Bell, who asked her if she understood why there had been objections from other businesses along the street.

“They have objected because they are very jealous of my success,” she responded.

“They think I am stealing their sales.”

Almost an hour after the meeting had begun chairman Ian Scott announced that the committee needed to “come to some sort of conclusion”.

Mr Bell said that it “ought to be a fairly simple decision” for members, and that he had “heard nothing today” from Dr Macgregor to suggest her products were significantly different from other businesses trading similar goods within a 50 metre radius.

For that reason, he moved that the committee reject the application for the Bakka van to operate from Irvine Place, a proposal which councillor Stephen Flaws seconded.

Councillor Alastair Cooper said that the company “could and should” be able to retail somewhere in the town, and suggested the committee grant Dr Macgregor a licence to operate from Charlotte Place instead.

Mr Bell and Mr Flaws were happy to amend their motion to allow for a licence to be granted for the van to operate on this site, and following a short discussion between members they motioned to grant Dr Macgregor a licence for the Burns Walk site too.

Dr Macgregor said at the meeting’s conclusion that the Charlotte Place site was “not a preferred option” for her to trade from, as she would have to reverse in from the main road, but pledged to “see how it goes”.


Add Your Comment
  • Kerrie Meyer

    • February 17th, 2020 14:40

    So, our esteemed councillors have granted permission to a ‘van shop’ to sell goods similar to the hard pressed shop owners on Commercial Street; whilst in July 2010 the council granted planning permission to Tesco to expand their store to sell clothing and electrical goods, etc., to the detriment of many local traders in Lerwick. (As reported in the Shetland Times in July 2010., “One-stop-shop’ Tesco will leave Lerwick town centre a ghost town, says retailers’ chairman”). Not content with the enormous loss of trade due to online shopping and the intrusion of the likes of Tesco, the council continues to promote the death knell of our local shops. With the huge number of cruise ships visiting Lerwick, why can’t the Bakka van simply park up where the cruise ships dock where trade would no doubt be brisk. Cruise ship ports in Iceland and Norway are extremely well organised for tourist trade at all ports for cruise passengers, so why doesn’t the council create the facilities and the opportunity for ALL suitable local traders to sell their wares in that prime location too!

  • ian Tinkler

    • February 17th, 2020 17:03

    ALL suitable local traders to sell their wares in that prime locations too! Yes, and most are open in the lunch hour on holidays and all weekend when tourists are around. Does that happen in the Street? I fear not.

    • Kerrie Meyer

      • February 18th, 2020 1:19

      The Norwegians and even the Icelandics don’t miss a trick when it comes to marketing to cruise ship passengers. When we docked in Olden, Norway the souvenir shops were right in front of us and when we visited Ålesund, Norway we had ample opportunity to buy souvenirs from local shops in the town. However, on returning to the ship we had to ‘funnel’ through a huge gift shop at the port in order to reach the ship. With around 105 ships and 90,000 passengers expected in a season, the traders in Shetland need to learn a few lessons about the huge marketing opportunities that await them which are currently slipping through their fingers.

  • Pat Marley

    • February 18th, 2020 19:01

    All you have to do is go back to 2006 and the Chris Hodge debacle.
    Out of the town just a tad over 50 metres, no Council handouts that would never be paid back, plenty of jobs,permission for a car park but refused a trading licence because the ” pals” were either looking after their own interests or those of friends.


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.