End of the road

EAST Renfrewshire council has been given the go-ahead to take back the Boaters Cafe.

Last week, The Extra revealed the Rouken Glen institution had been unlawfully occupied since December last year.

The council was granted decree on Tuesday during a court hearing to recover the debt — which amounts to more than £170,000 — and take possession of premises within 14 days.

Sources have intimated that Mario Pacitti, owner of Boaters cafe, did not attend the hearing as he was out the country, but he now has 12 days to appeal the decision.

An ERC spokeswoman said: “East Renfrewshire council have been granted decree and will now be proceeding to recover the debt and take possession of (and secure) the premises as quickly as possible.

“We expect shortly, therefore, to be in a position to market the premises to any party who is interested in submitting a tender for the lease”.

Conservative councillor Gordon McCaskill defended the length of time taken by the council to achieve a resolution.

He told The Extra: “As a council, we have to go through every legal hoop and tick every box. As we are a public body we have to make sure we don’t seem like a bully against a small businessman.

“This will however be a learning process for the council — in future we should not get involved in profit sharing deals. We are a public service after all.

“There must also be some way of shortening the process so not to cost the council taxpayer money”.

Council leader Jim Fletcher defended the profit sharing policy.

He said: “Whether the tenant is refusing to pay straight rental, or a share of profits, there is still an inherent risk.

“If a business is doing well on council premises, why should the taxpayer not benefit?

“The lesson we have learned here is that, if somebody isn’t paying rent, we must take the quickest action possible.

“At the end of the day, we had no desire to see a business fail, we wanted the company to survive. “There are plenty of entrepreneurs looking to take over and we will do everything in our power to recoup the money.

“However, premises are rented out in good faith and we can’t guarantee we will not find ourselves in a similar situation in the future”.

Mr Pacitti’s lease was terminated on December 4.

Share your thoughts on the situation at Boaters by emailing gregor.hollerin@jpress.co.uk.