A LIFE-SIZE “butcher” is facing the chop, by council bosses who have threatened his owner with a fine of up to £2,500.
The iconic figure – complete with straw boater, striped overalls and moustache - has graced the doorway of butchers Duncan Fraser & Son in Queensgate, Inverness, for over 30 years.
But Highland Council says it’s a nuisance to pedestrians and breaches the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 Removal of Obstructions on Roads.
Butcher Duncan Fraser believes the threats are mince and he is determined that the jovial character will remain in his usual place.
“I am not taking him off the streets,” he said. “He is staying where he is. He is not causing a problem there. He isn’t a trip hazard. He is not sticking out in the street – he is in the doorway.”
Around 30 businesses across the city have received “threatening” letters from Highland Council warning they have placed an advertising hoarding on the public path or roadside verge without permission and asking for its immediate removal. Such contravention carries a maximum fine of £2,500.
The letter further warns that failure to comply with the roads authority or police in removing the “obstruction” can also incur an additional fine of £200 and details of the offence can be passed on to the chief constable for further action.
Mr Fraser said the distinctive model, acquired from a butchers’ show in Yorkshire in the early 1980s, had featured in guidebooks about the city and was also a favoured photo stop for hen parties.
“The women drape themselves around him,” he said. “If I had a £1 for every person photographed with him, I would be a rich man!”
Mr Fraser said butchers the length and breadth of the country displayed similar figures outside their premises.
“They don’t have a problem so why is there suddenly a problem here?” said Mr Fraser who is waiting to see what happens next.
Bookseller Charles Leakey, of Church Street, is also among the business owners to receive a letter.
“I do understand you don’t want to obstruct pavements and cause problems for partially-sighted or blind people,” Mr Leakey said.
But he felt the tone of the letter was threatening.
“I don’t think it is necessary for them to behave in a heavy-handed way,” he said. “It could be done in a more sensitive way.
“All they had to do was write to people saying they had to apply for permission for a sandwich board – not threaten them with a £2500 fine.”
Mr Leakey estimated his advertising board – which was sited on a wide pavement – had been there for about 20 years.
“There has never been a problem,” he said. “If I need to apply for a licence, I hope to do that. I had no idea one was needed.”
Mike Smith, manager of the Inverness Business Improvement District, said he had taken up the matter after being contacted by “a number of businesses” which had received letters.
He said the issue of advertising boards was first discussed by Highland Council in 2008 and a policy implemented in 2013 which included a free licensing system allowing some advertising hoardings under certain guidelines.
“I think it is really disappointing that this threatening letter has been sent to businesses,” Mr Smith said.
“I cannot understand why it has taken so long since the decision was made to actually contact the businesses.”
He also noted the letters did not mention the free licensing system.
A Highland Council spokeswoman said letters had gone out to city centre businesses breaching the policy, Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 Removal of Obstructions on Roads, seven years ago. On that occasion they were advised to remove the boards within seven days or face having them removed by the council which would seek to recover the removal costs from the business.