A seafood war has broken out in the picturesque west coast port of Ullapool, where a recently opened mobile shellfish shack has been threatened with closure by a cafe which has slapped seafood on the menu.
Mobile business, The Seafood Shack, has permission from Highland Council to operate so long as it does not trade “within a 490ft radius of a shop or restaurant selling similar products”.
Shack owners Kirsty Scobie and Fenella MacRae say they followed all proper procedures when applying for their street trading licence, but the nearby Gallery Cafe – which they say used to sell only paninis and cakes – now has fish on the menu and a complaint has been lodged with the council about its new competitor.
The entrepreneurs now fear the plug will be pulled on their fledgling business in West Argyle Street.
Their predicament has led to more than 2,600 people signing a petition titled “Please allow the Seafood Shack to continue serving in Ullapool”. Paul Eddington and Joanna Munro, who operate the Gallery Cafe, said they changed their menu on a regular basis, and claimed they had been “vilified” over the situation.
Mr Eddington said: “We bear no ill will against either of the two girls.”
He added:“We cannot understand how the Highland Council allowed the two formal licensing and planning processes to proceed.
“We have been vilified on social media with talk of boycotts of our business and some very hurtful and vindictive personal comments directed towards us from people who are not aware of all the facts. The impact of that on us personally and on our hardworking staff is intolerable and we feel extremely angry that we have been placed in this disgraceful position due to the incompetence of local authority officials.”
Miss Scobie said: “We understand the Gallery is trying promote itself. What we are upset about is that we were allowed to go this far. We have put all our time and money into this.”
A spokeswoman for Highland Council said: “The Highland Council has received a complaint from a local business that condition 8 is being breached, so the environmental health service will be carrying out an investigation.”