A frustrated Kirkcaldy cafe owner has been forced to close her business after failing to get the support of Fife Council.
Jacqueline Tiffney, who helps manage the family run Cafe Ecosse in the bus station owned by her mum Patricia, has seen a significant drop in footfall since the closure of Tesco in April and is struggling with the steep rents.
“We put to the council that it is a family run business and we really don’t want to close down,” said Jacqueline. “We wanted to see what they could do to help us and have had only one call returned in four months. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Patricia has asked Fife Council - who own the premises - for help by way of a rent reduction which she believes will help her stay afloat.
They advised her to post her notice allowing the premises to go out to tender, and, trusting no other business was interested, could re-apply with a negotiated rent.
However, with only three weeks until the final closure the council has yet to respond, leaving Cafe Ecosse with a dismal future.
Much of the cafe’s custom comes from elderly people who use their passes to get the bus into town.
“They don’t have anywhere else to go,” said Jacqueline. “They can’t walk down to the High Street. One of my customers burst into tears when I told him we had to close. People are devastated.”
Michael O’Gorman, service manager estates, said: “Fife Council is committed to working with local businesses to encourage investment and growth and is implementing a number of initiatives to rejuvenate Kirkcaldy town centre.
“We endeavour to support our tenants in times of economic difficulty and there is scope to reduce rents to prevailing market levels when a lease is renewed. Sometimes there is also scope to negotiate interim repayment plans in times of temporary difficulty to ease the financial pressures on businesses.
“We have been in communication with the café tenant. However they haven’t provided us with evidence of reduced trading as we requested. We have indicated to the tenant that a flexible approach could be taken with a view to assisting the business, but claims have to be substantiated. We recognise the importance of facilities within the bus station and we will try to ensure that a café service continues to operate.”
With Cafe Ecosse due to close on November 14 and insisting account evidence was sent to the council’s estates department time is running out and Jacqueline is furious.
“People are losing their jobs here and nobody has the decency to return our calls even after eight years of tenancy without a single missed payment. I can’t put it into words.”