Lettuce be 'aving you
IT has to be one of the most bizarre operations Lothian and Borders' finest will ever be involved in.
On Monday, officers more used to moving on groups of youths may instead be tasked with removing dozens of boxes of fruit and vegetables.
Joe Hussain (pictured), who has owned the Westend Store in Melville Place for 19 years, has been banned from displaying fruit and veg on the pavement outside his store.
The council wants to remove clutter on all streets that will be used as diversion routes for buses while Shandwick Place is closed for roadworks to clear the way for trams.
Mr Hussain has until Monday morning to get the goods shifted, but he has today vowed to fight the move all the way.
He said he was unsure of what action he would take on Monday, but he is looking to galvanise support from other shops across the city.
He said: "I've been putting stock out there for almost 20 years. Now I have been told I have just days to remove it.
"This would put me in danger of closing. People look at the produce outside and then come in to buy it. If we lost it, it would cost us 40 per cent of our business."
Diversions for the trams means there will be extra buses and busier pavements on a number of streets in the west end, including Charlotte Square, George Street, Queensferry Street, Randolph Crescent and Queen Street.
The council previously ordered Mr Hussain to remove goods from outside his shop in December 2005, but no action was taken after he gathered a petition of 3000 signatures. Police visited the shop with a council official on Thursday after a complaint about the clutter.
However, Mr Hussain's wife Kashfi said most people in the area were happy with the way their business was run.
"It seems the council does not support small shops. It is as if it is trying to put us out of business. This is how shops are run all over the world," she said.
The couple are being backed in their fight by Amjid Akran, chief executive of the Institute of Asian Professionals in Scotland.
"We find this alarming and are concerned about the shopkeeper who is obviously worried about his livelihood," he said.
The council said clearing Shandwick Place of street clutter was essential ahead of the diversion of traffic to make sure pavements were clear of obstructions.
Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city's environment leader, said: "The police are leading an initiative to prepare for the impending closure of Shandwick Place in advance of the tram diversion route. The council is happy to support them in this enforcement exercise. Environmental wardens are providing support to the police by visiting retailers and businesses to make them aware of the increased traffic flow expected and to ensure footpaths are clear of obstruction."
A Lothian and Borders Police spokeswoman added: "Following complaints and concerns about the expected increase in traffic volumes, a joint visit of police and council was made to premises in Melville Place."
It is not yet known if the ban on Mr Hussain's display will remain in force after the roadworks.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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