Balloch chip shop bosses “disappointed” as village square dining area is axed

NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY

Councillor Jonathan McColl has the shape of a man who enjoys a good fish supper – with maybe even a pie or a black pudding and a bottle of ginger thrown in.

But now West Dunbartonshire Council leader Jonathan has thrown his considerable weight behind an SNP move to shut down dining al fresco at the Blue Lagoon, which was recently purchased from Palombo’s in Balloch.

The new owners have said they are “disappointed” that their chain’s popular outdoor dining area on Loch Lomondside will not be remaining in plaice.

Councillor McColl has branded the two-week trial “an accident waiting to happen” when he urged Council not to renew the chippy’s lease for the outside seating area beyond the trial period on the site.

Last month he said: “I must object in the strongest terms towards the lease being renewed.”

What a balloon we have in Jonathan. A self-serving politician with a big ego and a short memory.

He pompously told his fellow beef burgers: “Discussions were had through licensing earlier on during the pandemic about using outdoor space to allow premises to continue to trade outdoors during (pandemic) restrictions.

“It was agreed by all (officers and members alike) that it would be madness to allow such a thing with Balloch Road being so busy and there being no signalled crossing.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Would that be the same madness that Jonathan and his fellow councillors and officers had in their heads when they blocked off Balloch Road themselves?

What a shower. Council ban dining in the Balloch street they blocked themselves.

Was that the same motley crew who introduced roadworks to Balloch road and rendered it impassable, causing businesses to shut and denying residents access to the village?

Of course it was. But was Jonathan listening then or were he and his mates out on the batter when this went through the Council?

One would imagine that with all the problems piling up on the SNP that Jonathan, pictured left,  and his motley crew  would have bigger fish to fry. But no.

The burly one told journalists this week that the council – his council, of course – that West Dunbartonshire would not be renewing the lease for the Blue Lagoon that would see people sitting eating outside the place.

The fat’s in the fire now though.

The owners, who have seen most of their trade in sunny Balloch come from the outdoor tables over the past fortnight, said they were hopeful of finding a solution that worked for both sides of this fishy fracas.

They said: “We were very disappointed to hear that the council has decided not to continue with the trial.

“This news was especially frustrating given the positive feedback we have had from customers and locals.

“It is our view that the provision of a modest outdoor dining space in Balloch is of real benefit to the local economy and community especially during the current restrictions.

“This has been echoed in the feedback we have had from local people and visitors alike.

“Blue Lagoon has branches throughout Scotland with outdoor seating in many units due to local councils encouraging business to utilise outdoor space since the pandemic began. It’s frustrating Balloch appears not to be adopting the same approach.

“We hope that the Council will commit to working with local hospitality businesses at this challenging time to support the proportionate use of outdoor space that make Balloch such a vibrant and thriving place to visit and live.

“Moving forward we are keen to work in partnership with the Council to explore proposals for outdoor dining in Balloch, and we are committed to engaging with interested parties.”

However, Councillor McColl and West Dunbartonshire Council have not spoken to the owners, despite having been contacted by journalists for a comment.

The local authority would not have spoken to The Democrat anyway since they have banned us from asking them embarrasing questions.

And there are plenty of them out there waiting for an answer.

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