Beach piano man to be evicted by council

Treuhaft has been living in a tent on Portobello beach, complete with piano. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Treuhaft has been living in a tent on Portobello beach, complete with piano. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A music-mad pensioner facing eviction from the council after setting up home in a tent on the beach has pledged to leave his piano as a lasting legacy of his stay.

Ben Treuhaft, 66, moved into his unusual pad on Portobello beach after his wife kicked him out of the family home “for talking too much”.

The professional piano tuner has been living on the sands for almost a week, washing at the nearby Portobello swimming centre and dining at the Old Portobello Parish Church cafe.

But Edinburgh City Council bosses have now said his new living arrangements are in breach of rules and have offered to “help him relocate”.

Mr Treuhaft said he would consider a move – but insisted the piano and the tent should remain.

He said: “I will not move the piano off that beautiful spot. It’s pi-anarchy – placing pianos in places that people don’t expect them to be.

“This is a public piano and it is in the public interest that it stays there. The tent needs to stay as well, because the piano would be history without it. It’s all one unit.

“The council can move me off any time but the operative phrase they used was ‘long-term’. I don’t mind if they try to help me relocate – just as long as it’s close to the tent.”

Mr Treuhaft left the family home and moved to the seaside after an argument with his 39-year-old wife.

The American father-of-two is the son of a Mitford sister who rebelled against her fascist upbringing and married a Communist nephew of Winston Churchill.

He honed his music skills in New York and spent some time in Japan before moving to Edinburgh where he opened a piano shop last year.

Council bosses said they would take a “gentle approach” and speak to Mr Truehaft to try and help him leave his beach home.

They said he was in breach of the authority’s park management rules.

Mr Treuhaft said he would try to find a loophole.

“I will do whatever they want, but I’m not moving the tent,” he said. “It’s a good thing for Portobello, because people can use it as a shelter and play music.

“I did it to surprise them in the first place.”

He added: “I’m trying to get the community to support me so we can keep playing the piano.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We are liaising very closely with Police Scotland in relation to Mr Treuhaft’s personal safety, but it is clear that his campsite is in breach of the Council’s Parks Management Rules, which prohibit camping on Portobello beach.

“As such in the long-term we will need to take the necessary action to help him relocate.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Our principal focus is to keep people safe. We are not involved in any plans to remove him from the beach.”