Butcher threatens to close Dalkeith shop over noise row

Keith Stewart, proprietor of Aytouns Family Butcher, Dalkeith, pictured with the compressors that are in question.
Keith Stewart, proprietor of Aytouns Family Butcher, Dalkeith, pictured with the compressors that are in question.

A Dalkeith butcher is considering closing his town centre shop after being served with a 28 day compliance notice due to his external compressor being nine decibels too loud.

Keith Stewart (58) of Aytouns at Eskdail Court, is angry with the way the council’s Environmental Health team has dealt with the issue following a complaint from a new neighbour in adjacent flats. The council called the noise a “statutory nuisance” but it “remains willing to liaise” with Mr Stewart to help him comply with the notice.

Aytouns has been given a 28 day notice for the shop's external cooling system as it has been deemed too noisy in  a dispute with a neighbouring resident.

Aytouns has been given a 28 day notice for the shop's external cooling system as it has been deemed too noisy in a dispute with a neighbouring resident.

The butcher said: “We have been provided a service to the people of Midlothian for 58 years. Then what happens is someone complains about the compressors that have been there for 20 years. One is for the fridge and one is for the counters. We can’t do without them.

“We are not saying we are above the regulations. We are nine decibels too high. That’s as loud as a person calmly breathing. So we are not talking about the whole house shaking to bits. It’s a small amount.

“We are not happy with how the council has dealt with this. We haven’t even been told which compressor is causing the issue.

“We are going to close for refurbishment May 7-17. So we said we would look to address the problem then. Then we got sent the 28 day notice. We’ve been in Midlothian for 58 years, 30 of those in Dalkeith, and we are now regarded as a ‘nuisance’ in their letter.

“If they prosecute me or bill me for big works then I’m out of here. If that’s what they do we will close.

“The official was very zealous and enthusiastic to take this forward. That’s what upset us. It’s the heavy handed way they have dealt with it.”

The butcher was quick to point out that he gets on well with the food hygiene department at the council, who he has “never had an issue with”.

He added his willingness to be reasonable about the notice from Environmental Health: “We are looking to maybe get jackets on the compressors. But has the complainant got double glazing? What’s the sound insulation like? It’s a 1960s building after all.”

Mr Stewart thanked staff for their response to the news.

He said: “One customer went to the local MP immediately. Another posted it on Facebook and it went viral.

“So we have been touched that we have had that support.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the customer reaction. It’s quite emotional actually. The support has been amazing. But as a firm we have done nothing apart from get angry about it.”

A council spokesperson said: “The notice requires the proprietor to take steps to reduce the noise generated by externally wall mounted condenser units. These serve refrigeration units inside the butcher’s shop and operate 24/7, on a cyclical basis.

“The council has a duty to investigate noise complaints and when it is determined that a statutory nuisance exists, they must issue a notice requiring the abatement of the noise determined to be a statutory nuisance.

“Having first brought the matter to the attention of the proprietor on 24 January 2018, and following two noise measurement surveys, the butcher was advised that a statutory noise nuisance exists. He has been given 28 days to comply. He has a right of appeal against the Notice.

“Midlothian Council’s Environmental Health service remain willing to liaise with the business proprietor and his refrigeration engineer to assist in complying with the terms of the notice and operating within the requirements of the legislation.”