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Monifieth bookshop owner in unholy row with kirk construction project

The Bookhouse's Steven Rome and Andrew Rome with the construction behind them
The Bookhouse's Steven Rome and Andrew Rome with the construction behind them

An Angus business owner has hit out at lengthy construction work which he claims has seen takings at his bookshop plummet.

Andrew Rome, who opened the Bookhouse shop on Monifieth High Street in December,  said: “We knew when we took the premises that there was going to be construction work going on at the church next door.

“But what wasn’t published in the plan was the fact that the pavement would be closed for at least a year, with hoardings erected in front of the site.

“This means the vast majority of our customers now have to cross three roads to get to our shop, and custom has tailed off.

“I arranged to have a meeting with Pert Bruce who are doing the construction work but they simply said that it was for health and safety reasons and the council had agreed to it.

“We also contacted the church and we were told that the work is for the good of the community but it isn’t doing us much good.

“The church also decided to have a week-long book and coffee sale which didn’t help either.

“There just seems to be intransigence from the church and the builders and we are losing an estimated £100 per day in takings.

“In our business, the Christmas trading period can make or break a new business.”

Angus South MSP Graeme Dey said: “Having viewed the situation in Monifieth for myself, I am rather perplexed that this construction work has led to the whole of the pavement outside it (the shop) being shut off.

“I, of course, recognise that this work must be undertaken in a safe manner but in keeping with the approaches I have made to Pert Bruce on Mr Rome’s behalf, I would hope that a sensible compromise can be reached.”

Speaking for Pert Bruce, Ronnie Lochrie said: “Our primary concern is to ensure the safety of the public and our staff, along with the requests of the roads department to keep the main road open and not to use any car parking spaces in front of the shops for our cabins and storage containers to enable customers access to all the premises.

“We are not at all trying to be awkward or wish any ill will on the owner of the Bookhouse, we have tried to find the best route for not just the Bookhouse owner but the other shops as well.

“If we had taken up all the car parking spaces and had a road closure that was first proposed as part of the original planning application, the negative impact on the area would have been far greater.

“We constantly evaluate the requirement of the full hoarding, and we hope to be in a position to pull the hoarding back to enable footpath access, hopefully by the end of October 2018.”

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “We understand the book shop owner’s frustration with the hoardings and are alive to his concerns but the decision to erect them for health and safety reasons, while a building is knocked down to make way for a new multi-purpose community hub church to benefit the whole of Monifieth, is the responsibility of the building contractor and Angus Council.”

An Angus Council spokesman said: “Officers have met with the shop owner and a local councillor and are currently in discussion with the developer and seeking a meeting with them to discuss the positioning of the hoarding.”

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