Business owners at a shopping centre have staged a walkout over a dispute with their landlord.
Firms at The Lochs in Easterhouse, Glasgow, say they feel under pressure to pay extra fees and that essential services, such as heating, are not being turned on.
Traders have accused Glasgow Council-owned landlord City Property of mismanaging the centre, refusing to meet with them, and leaving it to fall into a state of disrepair.
Escalators between floors in the shopping centre have also been left out of action.
Ina Mclaren, who runs the Sense Scotland charity shop, said the number of customers had fallen while bills were rising.
She said: “Our footfall is really bad and we’re making half the money we used to make, but the centre is charging us a fortune for services we’re not getting.”
The owner of Wee Betty’s café, which runs social nights for the local community, also said she was struggling with soaring rent and service charges.
Shelley Quinn said: “There’s more shops closing in here and if it keeps going this way, there isn’t going to be a centre.
“That’s heartbreaking for us, being from this community. This is our business, if people don’t come through this door, we won’t get them in here.”
Local residents and community organisations are fearful for the future of The Lochs.
Theresa Hart, who described it as the only safe place to socialise, said: ‘I’m a pensioner and go into the shopping centre and Wee Betty’s every day because I live alone and getting out is company for me.
“You meet your friends, you can have a chat over a cup of tea. The past couple of weeks, you’ve got to keep your coat on because it’s freezing and there’s no heating on.”
Stuart Patterson, the pastor of Easterhouse Community Church, said he was worried about the health of those who use the centre.
He said “It’s been allowed to go downhill. You look around, even at the roads, and they’re in terrible condition. I feel it’s only a matter of time before someone is hurt because of them.”
In a statement, City Property said traders at The Loch had not asked for meetings.
The landlord said: “While we’re not aware of any requests for a face-to-face meeting, our representatives will meet with tenants as required to discuss any issues raised.
“With regards the heating issues in the shopping centre, we continue to work to resolve this and hope to provide an update to all tenants of The Lochs within the week.
“Whilst trading conditions since March 2020 have been challenging, we have continued to communicate regularly with our tenants.”