Anonymous notes left on bistro bike by mystery ‘busybody’

Michael Farrell - Owner: Cafe Tartine. Picture; Ian Georgeson
Michael Farrell - Owner: Cafe Tartine. Picture; Ian Georgeson
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It might be a crime more suited to River City than Gotham City, but a Leith restaurant is having to deal with the actions of a mysterious “vigilante”.

Cafe Tartine has had an advertising sign pasted over with threatening letters by a mystery local resident claiming to be from a group demanding the removal of “illegal advertising” on the bridge.

The brasserie, in Commercial Street, chained a vintage French bike to Shore Bridge, less than 100 yards from the premises, with an advertising board covering its frame.

Owner Michael Farrell said he cannot understand why the bike is being targeted, but he believes the culprit is using anonymity to hide the fact they are working alone.

“We’re a family-run restaurant just trying to get a bit more footfall during the festival,” he said.

“I don’t like how whoever this is thinks they’re the moral arbiter of Cafe Tartine, I don’t think we’re spoiling the view or anything.

“When we first spotted it, we thought it was a bit strange, but didn’t expect it to go this far, so I started chronicling it on our Facebook page. I don’t think this person has any beef with the restaurant in particular, I think they’re just being a busybody.”

The first letter was left last Wednesday, warning Cafe Tartine to pull the advert or it would be removed by force.

Three hours later, with the bike still there, the cable ties holding up the advert were snipped, forcing Mr Farrell to take more drastic action.

“I got some cable ties and made sure it was properly tied to the bike, but they’ve been cut, so this person knew exactly what they were doing,” he said.

“After that I got industrial strength ties and they haven’t been cut, but it’s a bit ridiculous that it has come to this.”

The resident’s concerns – according to the notes which were posted on August 10, 12 and 14 – include “flyposting” and aiming to prevent “the bridge becoming festooned in adverts as it was a few years ago”.

The resident also describes the advert as “antisocial behaviour”.

Mr Farrell, 31, contacted police, who arrived on Saturday morning with a notice advising residents to take up any complaints with the city council.

However, not to be deterred, the culprit returned with a note claiming: “It is perfectly legal to remove illegal advertising.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We are aware of ongoing issues with notes being affixed to an advertising bike, which is secured to a bridge in Leith. Police correspondence has been issued warning those responsible to stop and direct any issues they may have to the city council.”

Though, as Mr Farrell points out, the vigilante’s actions have had an unintended consequence.

“I don’t know if this person realises their whole campaign has actually just attracted more business for us,” he said.