Nurse Susan Connolly, Main Street, Renton, the Village Cafe with lessee Duncan Wrethman getting into his car. Pictures by Bill Heaney
By Bill Heaney
The Village Café in Main Street, Renton, has been refused planning permission by West Dunbartonshire Council, which means effectively that it will have to close.
The Planning Committee met today (Wednesday) in the Council headquarters at Church Street, Dumbarton, and voted by 5-4 to shut down the food sales operation.
Councillor Jim Bollan, who is not a member of the committee, said later: “I am genuinely surprised and disappointed that the Village Cafe application was refused.
“The local family who run it have done everything required of them by Environmental Health & Planning which would have met all the necessary rigorous regulations.”
The Community Party member added: “Renton needs a sit-in Cafe, which also does home delivery, and this service will be a huge loss to the Village.”
The café is currently opened seven days a week from 7am until 2pm Monday to Saturday and 8pm to 1pm on a Sunday.
It offers a variety of fried foods, chicken nuggets and chips “as well as other hot food items such as curry.
“The café also provides an external catering service. It has three tables and one bench and seating for 13 people. There is a service and display counter, food preparation area and staff toilets.”
Susan Connolly, a nurse who lives upstairs from the café, said the planning application had been the subject of an administrative “pantomime” because the Council had consistently failed to solve the matter, which had first been raised almost 25 years ago.
She had never wanted to see the café closed but had to continue with her complaints about it because the smell from the cooking there had become unbearable.
“I feel terrible that things have come to this. It’s a horrible situation. If the owner had carried out the work and remedied things then it never would have happened, but when he didn’t do what was asked of him, I had to do something.”
She had tried many times in the past to have something done about it, she said.
And officials who had looked at the whole picture said extractor fans would solve the problem.
It was agreed with owner Angus Rennie this would happen, but it hadn’t.
Cllr Ian Dickson said it would have cost around £8,000 to install the extractors, and the reason why the work hadn’t been done the work was that the owner could have come up with the money only to find that the Council had refused planning permission.
Cllrs Agnew, Dickson and Bollan.
But Bailie Denis Agnew said the confusion may have been caused by the fact that West Dunbartonshire Council was merged with Dumbarton District Council in 1996, and that could have been one of the reasons why the application process had not been concluded.
This was a possible scenario for what had happened, although it had never been officially pinned down to that.
Anyway, he thought the permission should be refused since people who lived there – in a row of flats with back gardens where residents could relax and enjoy their leisure time – were entitled not to have to put up with the strong cooking smells from the café.
Its main menu appeared to be fried food, mainly breakfasts, although it was in the report to the committee that curry was also available in the café from time to time.
He said that people should be able to open the windows in their flats for fresh, clean air and to hang out their washing on the drying green whenever it suited them.
Inspections and inquiries had taken place on a number of occasions. The matter had gone as far as a Reporter to the Government in Edinburgh and appeals had been lodged, but it was stalemate again.
Bailie Agnew said that having heard the new submission to the committee he still felt strongly that planning permission to keep the café going should be refused.
He was seconded by Cllr Diane Docherty, the housing convener, and the vote was carried by five votes to four.
There was an indication that there could be a further meeting to discuss this in future if the owners installed the extractor equipment.