Pay us £130,000 and we will move OUR eyesore cable box

TWO businessmen trying to transform a derelict Glasgow property into three cafes have been told they must pay more than £130,000 to move a cable box.

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The men have been told they must pay £130,000 to move the box

Jim Agnew and Imran Ahmed, who own three commercial units, including Price Cutter in Tollcross Road, are hoping to convert part of the former Park Bar into three food outlets

They have been given permission by Glasgow City Council to convert the East End site in Altyre Road, which will create 10 jobs.

But a grey Virgin Media cabinet outside the front of the building is stopping them from starting work.

And after a two-year dispute with the company, they are being told it will cost £131,229 to move the cable box just six feet.

Mr Agnew, 70, from King's Park, said: "We were given the building warrant and planning permission 4½ years ago.

"We always wanted to do something with this eyesore site because the Commonwealth Games are coming up and it is good for the community.

"So we drew plans with our architect and we had everything sorted.

"The only thing we needed to move was the Virgin Media box because it is taking up the whole front of where the entrance would be."

The businessmen said they began trying to correspond with Virgin more than two years ago but struggled to get an answer.

Mr Agnew said: "It was like Virgin was trying to put us off.

"It didn't really get back to us, we kept telling Virgin we wanted to get on with building."

The pair began using social networking site Twitter to get the company's attention.

Mr Ahmed, 33, from Motherwell, said: "I started tweeting them, including to Sir Richard Branson.

"Eventually, the company's social media team e-mailed us and Virgin got an engineer out to look at the box."

When the duo were given the £131,000 quote they could not believe it.

They were told the cheapest option to re-site the cabinet would cost £60,000 to £90,000.

Mr Ahmed said: "We are willing to pay within reason, but these are obscene amounts."

Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan, who has been assisting the businessmen, criticised the cable and broadband firm.

He said: "It's a disgrace that a company the size of Virgin Media is being so obstructive over this issue.

"Small businesses are the backbone of local economies and Virgin Media acting in such a fashion is detrimental to economic recovery in communities. One can't help wonder if this is taking place elsewhere.

"To expect my constituents to fork out in excess of £130, 000 is ludicrous. If Virgin Media has any sense of community spirit it will work with Mr Agnew and Mr Ahmed in a more reasonable fashion to ensure this issue comes to a satisfactory conclusion."

Virgin Media said it would not contribute to the "considerable" costs of moving a cabinet.

A spokesman added: "We believe it is appropriate that any business pays for the relocation and disruption it would cause our customers if a firm requests it be moved for commercial gain."

As a goodwill gesture Virgin is offering free wi-fi to the site during the time of the Commonwealth Games.

The spokesman said: "We would be delighted to provide free wi-fi to this site during the Games so it could become a great community hub where everyone could keep up with the sporting action online."

rachel.loxton@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

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