A HELENSBURGH bakery owner says there will be “nothing left” of her business if she is forced to remove an outdoor table following a complaint.

Craigard Tearoom owner Melanie Andrews revealed that a “concerned citizen” had submitted a formal complaint to Argyll and Bute Council last week over a solitary table and chairs at the front of the Sinclair Street eatery.

The man reportedly accosted Melanie and her son to say that permission was needed to place the table on the pavement and it was a danger to other members of the public walking in the street.

Melanie, who was awarded an MBE in 2017 ‘for services to baking and to the community in Helensburgh’, said she is “clinging on with my fingernails” to the business during the coronavirus crisis and a removal order could prove to be the final straw.

She told the Advertiser: “I have one table which has been there for almost 30 years.

“I’ve been working my butt off for the last five months to serve this community but the other day the council called me to say there’s been an official complaint.

“You take that one table away and I don’t have any business left.”

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Customers have responded with messages of support for Melanie after she shared her frustration on social media but she is now waiting in limbo to hear back from local authority officials.

She said: “The rules are supposed to have been relaxed right now for small businesses to help them get back on their feet so why the council have even entertained this I don’t know, it’s ridiculous.

“I have fantastic support from the local community which is why I am still here.

“I have to keep it in perspective and realise this is just one person. There are so many out there who don’t feel the same way and you don’t know what someone might be going through right now.

“When the council, like the police, receive a complaint they have to follow it up, but I’m coming to the point where there’s only so much I can give.

“When something like this happens you do question yourself and ask ‘why am I bothering?’”

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “Businesses do require permission to place chairs and tables on a public street.

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“However, these are not normal times and we are doing all we can to support businesses to re-open safely during the current Covid-19 situation.

“The council has made public spaces available for use by businesses and are encouraging applications from businesses who may wish to use on-street car parking spaces and also pavement areas adjoining their premises.

"All new applications are then considered in terms of public safety, road safety and compliance against Covid-19 physical distancing measures, and a decision will be made.

“In terms of businesses which previously used pavement space, there is no need to reapply, provided that they are managed in compliance with physical distancing measures and do not impact on the use of the pavement areas.”

The council has created guidance for businesses who need to create space for queueing or outside trading: to read it in full, click here.

Melanie said she will be shutting up shop for a few weeks after “the last six months of running the gauntlet and dodging bullets”.

She added: “We will close on August 25 to regroup, recharge and hopefully come back fighting.”

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