Farm stall seller slams council red tape
A PRIZE-WINNING egg farmer has closed her A83 Bellochantuy farm stall after claiming enforcement officers had been ‘over-enthusiastic’.
Mum-of-four Hannah Jones added completing all the forms to comply with legislation was impossible considering the time needed to run the existing farm business.
More than 60 people took to social media last week to support Mrs Jones and the Courier received three letters backing the businesswoman’s initiative.
Mrs Jones said: ‘We had at least 14 inspections in a year and with four children and the farm we do not have the time.’
The stall started life as a hut at the end of the winding drive to High Bellochantuy farm.
Customers could buy Kintyre eggs and in season vegetables, such as a bag of courgettes for £1.
Mrs Jones and her husband Will had a more ambitious scheme and applied for planning permission in 2014 for a permanent structure on ground they owned adjacent to the Argyll hotel.
The following year a wooden farm stall was erected and the items sold expanded to include crafts, rolled oats, ice-cream, tablet and preserves.
In addition, a hardstanding was created by the shop and soon the beginnings of a petting zoo were established with the arrival of a sow named Big Pig and a litter of piglets.
A stone dyke was erected next to the shop and picnic tables installed. A shed with a sandpit inside for children to play on rainy days and further animals, including geese, sheep, hens and rabbits, were added.
A sink with cold running water was installed to comply with handwashing regulations after children had touched the animals but the Joneses never installed toilets. Originally the stall co-existed with the Argyll hotel and visitors were allowed to use its toilets.
This year the hotel adjusted its opening hours and at one stage found it was running out of toilet rolls and needing to do additional cleaning at times when it was not open for residents.
The hotel proprietor said there has always been informal use of its facilities during opening hours for people who walk on the beach.
The hardstanding, stone dyke and shed was in variance with the original planning permission and on February 24 this year Argyll and Bute Council served an enforcement notice.
It stated: ‘As the owners of the land affected you are required to make an application to Argyll and Bute Council, as planning authority, for the development of the land affected that represents the breach of planning control, or remove the unauthorised developments.’
On Wednesday Mrs Jones told the Courier she did not have the time to complete a planning application.
A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute council said: ‘As a council we are committed to encouraging development in Argyll and Bute and we work hard with businesses and householders to ensure that, where possible, their plans can become reality.
‘We want to see businesses flourish and grow and we are here to help that happen.
‘Our regulatory services, such as planning, environmental health and trading standards, have a duty under the law to ensure statutory regulations are complied with. This creates an even playing field for all businesses.
‘We would encourage all businesses to get in touch with us if they are planning any development.
‘Our planning and regulatory service is committed to making Argyll and Bute an attractive place to live, work and invest.’
A sign advertising the various attractions at the farm stall.