“This island can’t afford to lose people like Aidan”

Bute Brew Co. is currently based in Columshill Street, Rothesay.
Bute Brew Co. is currently based in Columshill Street, Rothesay.

An island business is set to close after claims the council has backtracked on an agreement with its owner.

Aidan Canavan, owner of micro-brewery Bute Brew Co., had been in talks with Argyll and Bute Council over leasing the former slaughterhouse in Meadows Road to allow the business to expand to meet demand, but was told this week the building is not considered ‘surplus’ and is not available.

In a post on Facebook made by Alisdair Johnston on Monday evening, he quoted Mr Canavan as saying: “The council have backtracked on their decision to release the slaughterhouse. As I can’t see any future for Bute Brew Co. I have given notice to our staff and the landlords and Bute Brew Co. is closing down.

“I don’t see any future for business or young people on Bute.”

Last month we reported that Mr Canavan had warned he may be forced to leave the island as Highlands and Islands Enterprise was unable to support his expansion plans since he didn’t own the premises where the brewery is based in Columshill Street.

At that time Mr Canavan had approached the council about acquiring one of their redundant properties but was told the council was unwilling to release it because “they don’t know what they want to do with the site”.

At the April meeting of Bute Community Council the island’s three councillors, Len Scoullar, Robert Macintyre and Isobel Strong, all stated that while discussions were ongoing on the subject of the slaughterhouse the outlook was very positive.

Councillor Isobel Strong told The Buteman: “I was infuriated to hear that the council’s roads department would not sell or lease the slaughterhouse to Aidan Canavan who wanted to expand his successful Bute Brew Co.

“The three Bute councillors met with the council leader three weeks ago and thought the process of negotiation had started. I was taken aback to say the least when I heard yesterday [Monday] that the premises were not for sale – apparently because the council might want it in future if they amalgamate the two yards, the one at Union St and the one at 110 High St. They have been talking about this since I was elected in 1999! There is plenty of space especially since the recent budget has meant we only have one bin lorry.

“The council has recently appointed highly paid economic development staff but they can’t or won’t develop existing assets for a business which would have employed 12 to 15 people as well as expanding the tourism offer for visitors. I hope Aidan will change his mind and I for one will help as much as I can as I’m sure will the other Bute councillors.

“This island can’t afford to lose people like Aidan Canavan.”