Loo dispute torpedoes Minto cafe

The couple behind plans to open a new cafe and live music venue in an old schoolhouse in Minto say the project now appears ‘dead in the water’ after council officials restricted the number of patrons it could admit to just 15.

Rob Armstrong and his partner Rachel Williamson, have already spent a considerable sum converting the village’s disused Victorian school.

But the project, christened The Study, became mired in a dispute with Scottish Borders Council over its lack of toilet facilities – the building has just a single unisex loo.

And Mr Armstrong and Ms Williamson say they cannot afford the costly extension that would be needed to house the extra toilets.

“Restricting us to 15 people means the venue would not be viable financially. Despite a lot of letters and emails of support, we can’t see any way forward and think we may now have to just call it a day,” Mr Armstrong told us this week.

The news was greeted with disappointment by local Scottish Borders councillors, Stuart Marshall and Watson McAteer.

“I feel there has been a real opportunity missed here, not only with the opening of a new business, but more importantly the provision of new jobs,” Mr Marshall said.

And Mr McAteer added: “I find it incredible an effective solution to this problem has not been achieved. The prospect of losing a new business with associated employment to an area in desperate need of development just should not happen.

“I have contacted Mr Armstrong to understand exactly what his experience of dealing with the council has been like to enable some constructive feedback and perhaps find a way to break the deadlock.”