Published: 26/12/2017 07:00 - Updated: 22/12/2017 09:18

Row erupts over refusal of Inverness takeaway

Written byDonna MacAllister


Telly on the Blink owner Robyn MacDonald-Johnston.

A VETERAN TV repair man is furious with an Inverness councillor, claiming he has shattered his hopes of selling his sprawling Tomnahurich Street premises and relocating to a small workshop in his back garden.

Telly on the Blink owner Robyn MacDonald-Johnston hoped to sell the ground-floor city building to a Chinese family who, in turn, wanted to convert it into a Chinese takeaway.

But following an objection from The Samaritans, which occupy the top floor and feared the takeaway would "strongly compromise our critical work with noise and disturbance", plus objections from 13 neighbours – some of whom were worried about "pungent smells" – councillors on the planning committee voted 5-7 against the application, on road safety grounds.

And Mr MacDonald-Johnston blames Councillor Bill Boyd for bursting his bubble.

The councillor was previously a volunteer for The Samaritans for six-and-a-half years and is campaigning for road safety measures in that area.

Mr MacDonald-Johnston said: "I was watching the webcast of the meeting and from what I could see he was on his feet arguing against it – but he was a volunteer for the Samaritans, [which were] one of the primary objectors, and he chaired the Ballifeary Community Council for years and they also objected – so he shouldn’t have been speaking on the matter at all."

The livid businessman believes Cllr Boyd should have declared an interest before speaking out on the matter in the council’s chamber.

Under council guidelines, before a councillor speaks on a matter, it is good practice to disclose to fellow members if they feel a personal or close interest has influenced their own decision-making.

But Cllr Boyd insisted he had no personal interest in the matter.

He said he gave up volunteering for The Samaritans 18 months ago and he was no longer chairman of Ballifeary Community Council.

He stood down in May when he was elected to the Inverness West seat for the SNP.

Cllr Boyd said his objection boiled down to genuine concerns for pedestrians, mainly children, who live on the housing schemes in the built-up area.

He sympathised with Mr MacDonald-Johnston, but added: "Like every other application, I have looked at this objectively on its own merits, unaffected by anything else, and my main concern was the same as the traffic officers who objected.

"I think this would have added to the traffic and particularly the parking in that area," he added.

The application, which came before committee last week, had been recommended for approval by council planning officer Elaine Watt.

Her report said the area was appropriate for a takeaway because it had parking bays and side streets for parking.

Mr MacDonald-Johnston felt it was time to relocate his TV repair business to a smaller premises, and he had high hopes he could relocate to a workshop at his home on the Black Isle.

He feels "disappointed and angry" that the application was turned down and he fears the family who were interested in the site will walk away from the sale, leaving him lumbered with premises that are too big for his needs.

He added: "It’s unfortunate that something exciting and new and different for Inverness has been turned down.

"The Chinese family proposed to put in a state-of-the-art ventilation system which would’ve meant no smells at all and the council spent millions building the West Link which has reduced traffic down here now.

"Yesterday you could’ve lain across Tomnahurich Street and not been in any danger of being run over.

"I’m not sure what’s going to happen now.

"The agent for the family said they will come back to me to discuss after Christmas," he added.

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