An Aberdeen business owner has criticised council bosses for delaying her bid to create 25 jobs at a new restaurant.
Grilled cheese eatery Melt opened on Holburn Street in Aberdeen in 2016 and owner Mechelle Clark said it has been so successful she wants to expand.
The businesswoman eyed a new premises at the former Mamma Pizza unit on Belmont Street and planned to open a takeaway and a restaurant there.
So far, 283 people have pledged a total of £9,720 in a crowdfunder for the restaurant and she hoped to open last year – giving the council £24,000 a year in rent and £34,100 in business rates.
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However, the project has been beset by delays, which the former oil worker blames on the building’s owner, Aberdeen City Council.
Ms Clark, of Stonehaven, said she reached a principle agreement with the council last July and hoped to move into the unit last September when it hit a snag.
“The landlord’s building surveyors requested to review Melt’s survey report of the building,” said Ms Clark.
She added: “Its agent said that, as a result of the (detail on who would be liable for building repairs), all other agreed terms had reverted back to the very beginning.”
That meant the September move-in was postponed.
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Ms Clark added: “We were still waiting to receive vital paperwork from the council by September and a meeting took place between Melt and the council at the end of September.”
She said parties agreed financial details by early October. But Ms Clark said the council told her moving in before Christmas was unlikely.
Ms Clark said: “One member of council staff went on annual leave for three weeks and another for two weeks, which caused a further delay. Given this investment would create 25 jobs and be worth £58,100 for the council annually, you would have thought another member of staff could help.”
Ms Clark said she last wrote to the council a month ago without reply.
She added: “The project is only two months away from what will be a year since talks started to gain entry to Belmont Street. The level of communication since the start of the year is at an all-time low and the team are frustrated by the lack of ongoing progress.
“Melt is reaching out to their crowdfund backers and takeaway regulars to thank them for their continued patience and support, and appealing to the council’s estates team to work together with the company to find a solution.”
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She asked George Street and Harbour Councillor Michael Hutchison to intervene.
He said: “I’m excited about Melt 2 coming to Belmont Street. It would complement some of the great local businesses already in the area.
“There’s no benefit for anyone in having that building sitting empty and I hope something can be sorted soon.”
An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said: “We would not discuss an individual applicant for what is a commercial discussion.”
It is understood that since the Evening Express raised the matter with the council, its bosses have contacted Ms Clark to arrange a meeting with the aim of speeding up the launch of the business.