Our newest fish shop opens in Edinburgh on Saturday (but the City of Edinburgh Council says you can’t buy any)

We are delighted to announce that our new Fishkeeper Scotland store will be opening at Leith Mills, 70/74 Bangor Road, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 5JU on Saturday the 4th of August at 9am! There will also be special offers and fun for the family to coincide with our “Name That Tuna” competition being featured on Real Radio next week.

Having only started the shop fit out three weeks ago we have been working day and night to get everything in place for an early August opening for the fishkeepers of Edinburgh and beyond.

We are really pleased with the results so far and have been working carefully to slowly stock up the fish house with a wide selection of healthy, quality livestock for opening (although rarer species will arrive over the coming weeks).

However a curve ball means we will be unable to sell ANY fish initially when we open…

As with any aquatics store we require a pet shop license in order to sell vertebrate animals (in our case – fish). Usually issued within a matter of days, we were still conscious that we had a very tight lead time for opening, so within two hours of the first fish arriving on the final system we rushed down to City of Edinburgh Council to make our application as we were now ready to demonstrate our working systems to the authorities.

We were astonished to be informed that the process would take between 6 weeks to 6 months, despite the procedures and requirements being the same as the many other areas across the UK where we hold licenses which are granted within a matter of days. How we were supposed to submit our application 6 months before signing our lease we’ll never know!

We are putting pressure on the authorities as the below letter shows, and if you have words of support, please leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Anyway, the party will go on! We will be open on Saturday with or without a license, however unless the City of Edinburgh Council see sense and want to encourage investment and employment within their city then we will have to focus on what we can sell for now which means we will have a great selection of corals, invertebrates, plants and shrimp available on the day. And don’t forget there will be plenty of cake and balloons… 😉

26/07/2012

Dear Malcolm Chisholm MSP,

CC: Councillor Chas Booth, Councillor Adam McVey and Councillor Gordon Munro
CC: Chief Executive of the Council
CC: Head of Licensing Department
CC: Head of Trading Standards

I write to you in regard to Maidenhead Aquatics’ Pet Shop License application (ref: 12/13055/PET1) lodged with the City of Edinburgh Council on 25th July 2012 along with the respective fee of £322.00. We have started work on fitting out our new specialist aquarium store within Leith Mills, 70/74 Bangor Road, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 5JU with an anticipated opening date of Saturday the 4th of August.

I was shocked to be advised that the process of granting the application would take a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks up to a maximum of 6 months. Maidenhead Aquatics hold over 100 individual pet shop licenses across our network of stores UK wide. This is by far the longest period that we have ever encountered. Although we understand that due diligence needs to be applied, Edinburgh City Council’s very lengthy licensing process is going to severely hamper our trade and damage the large investment that we are currently undertaking in your constituency.

Leith has a history of specialist aquatic stores trading within the area, however unfortunately the majority have closed over recent years. This was partly as I understand due to disruption caused by the tram works rather than a loss of interest by the local population in fish keeping. We believe that we will be restoring a service of value to the local community. Also in our experience as people are prepared to travel far and wide for a good selection of high quality livestock we will be attracting many additional visitors to Leith who were previously unaware of what the area has to offer.

Our investment is not limited purely to the cost of fitting out our shop (which to date runs to many tens of thousands of pounds) but we will be bringing employment to the area with the intention of wherever possible employing locally. This licensing process proposed by the City Council, whether weeks or even months, is going to delay and reduce our plans for employment. These impacts will be serious both in the short and long term.  Not least because when we open on the 4th of August, new customers visiting our aquatic store will be given a negative impression because as matters stand they will be unable to buy fish for their aquarium! We have already committed to a large advertising campaign for next week that cannot be cancelled.

With regard the application we wonder if you would be willing apply any pressure to ensure that it is issued promptly, our store in North Lanarkshire had theirs granted within three days. Although we wholeheartedly support the aims and nature of the Pet Shop Licensing act, we believe that as holders of over 100 separate licences in good standing with councils across the UK and the leading specialist aquatic retailer in the UK it is highly unlikely that there would be justifiable reason for our application to be denied. We have grown to the size that we are by working to a winning formula for establishing successful new stores through our own innovation and best practices.

Wherever possible we look to employ persons trained in aquaculture at facilities such as the University of Stirling or Sparsholt College in Hampshire. Where this is not possible all of our staff are employed as experienced fishkeepers and then trained internally. We will be offering all staff employed the option to undertake a diploma in Fish Health, Biology, Water Quality and Filtration which is a course offered by our trade association OATA (Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association). We fund the cost of the course on behalf of the employee and even pay them a bonus on completion.

We have a strong focus on animal welfare and commit to OATA’s code of conduct, specifically their guides on water quality which actually form a crucial part of the Pet Shop License conditions. It should also be noted that we have a director of the company who sits on the board of OATA in an unpaid position.

We also have our self imposed Livestock Charter which places animal welfare before all else in our conduct, and restricts our stores from stocking unsuitable or unethical species.

I hope I have construed to you the positive nature of our company which is looking to expand across the whole of Scotland, providing an essential service for fishkeepers in the area. Fish are actually the third most popular pet in the country in households owning them, by far surpassing cats and dogs, especially in urban areas, in numbers actually kept. As a company of integrity with a good reputation we intend to fully comply with the regulations and to cooperate fully with local authorities that carry out their duties efficiently and in a timely manner.  We are calling upon you to help remove the unnecessary bureaucratic hold up to our continued investment in the area of Leith and the wider City of Edinburgh.

Yours sincerely,
Maidenhead Aquatics 4 LLP

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5 Replies to “Our newest fish shop opens in Edinburgh on Saturday (but the City of Edinburgh Council says you can’t buy any)”

  1. 6 months?! No wonder there’s so much boarded up shops down there… Council not doing much to encourage new business!

  2. I am an aquarist and would be obliged if you could supply maidenhead aquatics with their necessary licence as quickly as possible.

    Yours

    G fraser

  3. Come on Edinburgh – please don’t hold this up. MA is a fantastic business and will do much to enhance the area.

  4. Please could you fast track MA’s licence, as they have work so hard to bring a great name in the aquatic circle to our city. Not only will it bring pleasure to fish keepers alike it will increase business to the surrounding community.

    B. Horrocks

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