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”.