A north-east garden centre which offers employment to people with additional support needs has been forced to shut down its “pick and collect” service following a complaint.
Foxlane Garden Centre in Westhill has been ordered to cancel appointments following a notice from Aberdeenshire Council.
The garden centre was told to close last month, after the local authority’s environmental health inspectors said the goods it sells were “non-essential”.
Owner Gordon Henderson said the staff had since taken to a “click and collect” system for the past four weeks to adapt during the unprecedented circumstances.
However following First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement on Thursday, where she told the public they could start shopping at garden centres as of May 28, Mr Henderson said they team wanted to trial a “pick and collect” system.
People would order their items ahead and then be given a 20-minute time slot to pick up their purchase.
Customers were assigned an appointment time, allowing no more than four customers in the premises in the space of an hour so they could pick out their items, all while adhering to social distancing measures.
In an online statement the centre announced: “Well, we’ve just been informed by the council that they’re shutting down our pick and collect service after receiving a complaint from someone.
“If you have an appointment booked it has now been cancelled. Very sorry.”
Mr Henderson said he understood why the council would ask the centre to stop and that the staff would be gearing up to open on Thursday.
He added: “We had received such positive feedback from the public.
“My daughter had to phone everyone who was due for an appointment to let them know we had to cancel.
“There were a few who were pretty upset and were looking forward to it.
“We’re not just trying to protect the business but the livelihoods of people too.
“Right now, we’re focusing on getting everything ready for our opening on Thursday.”
Well, we've just been informed by the Council that they're shutting down our Pick & Collect service after receiving a…
A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “The original decision to close all garden centres in Aberdeenshire was based on national health protection regulations, which required local authorities to enforce temporary closures on all businesses which sell goods to the public and which are not deemed essential, thereby minimising unnecessary travel by the public.
“We were recently advised that Foxlane Garden Centre Garden had chosen to introduce a ‘pick and collect’ arrangement which was allowing a group of four customers into the premises to browse and purchase goods which is against current Scottish Government guidance.
“Officers instructed the business to cease its operation and to reconsider the option of a ‘click and collect’ arrangement as was originally agreed.
“We appreciate that this is an extremely difficult time for everyone and our main priority is to ensure the public health of Aberdeenshire residents, employers and employees is protected as best as possible. It remains our key priority to support all local businesses and communities at this time.”