Fish merchant ‘left in the dark’

A fish merchant who was hoping to have a new fish and chip takeaway up and running in Whitby by Easter says he has been “left in the dark” by the borough council over the building’s lease.

Shaun Wood, who runs Whitby Fish Sales, is ready to invest around £70,000 to get the business up and running, but feels that the council are holding back on giving him a long enough lease to make the investment worthwhile.

He said: “We got the planning permission we needed, which is fantastic, but I’m not sure whether the council will give me a long enough lease for the project to go ahead.”

Mr Wood says he believes the council is holding out in case it gets a better offer - perhaps from potential wind farm developers.

He continued: “I feel like they’re frightened to make a decision at the moment and they don’t know what to do with me. It’s like they’re hedging their bets.”

Mr Wood said that he has no axe to grind with the council, but just wants to know where he stands so he can get on with the project - which could be a key factor in keeping Whitby Fish Market afloat.

He explained that one of the main reasons for opening the new takeaway was to create a new income stream to support the fish market.

Mr Wood said: “I can see Whitby Fish Market finishing by December if nothing is sorted out with the Chandlery.

“The market isn’t successful at the moment, but at least it’s there. It’s a provision for if fishing does get better - and who wants to be the person to end that? Whitby Fish Sales is going to see another income stream to survive.”

He explained that the company costs around £50,000 a year to run and that in the last 12 months, the market has made a £20,000 loss.

Mr Wood says he believes that the council are keen to keep the fish market going, as they are looking into possible subsidies at the moment, but feels that the support he had when he first took on the market has faded.

And to make matters even more difficult, Mr Wood said that fishing conditions at the moment are “pathetic”.