Frank Lightfoot’s protest against the Rattler caught an Imbil shop in the crossfire.
Frank Lightfoot’s protest against the Rattler caught an Imbil shop in the crossfire.

Rattler protest leaves Mary Valley shop owner in tears

A PROTEST against the Mary Valley Rattler has brought an Imbil shop owner to tears after her unrelated business was caught in the crossfire.

Rattler Cafe owner Loretta Shaws was forced to defend her integrity this week after protester Frank Lightfoot set up shop in Imbil this week.

Mr Lightfoot has been engaged in an ongoing protest against alleged shoddy treatment by the formerly-private, now-council-owned heritage train over items leased in 1998.

Rattler Cafe owner Loretta Shaw
Rattler Cafe owner Loretta Shaw

Ms Shaw's cafe has no ties to the resurrected Rattler - she inherited the business's name when she took over eight years ago - but that did not stop customers asking if she was the one accused of wrongdoing by Mr Lightfoot.

Fighting back tears as she spoke, Ms Shaw said she was asked by almost two dozen people if the claims were true.

And she was worried the damage did not stop there.

"It's the ones that don't come in, who just go 'Loretta doesn't pay her bills and steals'," she said.

"I get his case and I get what he is saying … but you're basically defaming me all the way up the highway."

Mr Lightfoot said he tried to find a solution when Ms Shaw raised her concerns with him.

"She wanted me to cover up 'Rattler'," he said.

Loretta Shaw.
Loretta Shaw.

"But the Rattler is the target, the railway operations."

He said he offered Ms Shaw the chance to write "something on paper to put on my sign" but "she didn't avail herself of the first option".

"I don't know what else I was supposed to do," he said.

"She is not the target."

"If I do go back (to Imbil) I'm going to change something (on the sign)."

However he said the town's size made it difficult to create distance between his sign and the cafe.

"I was parked outside the post office as there are no mail deliveries in Imbil," he said.

"You cannot be a long way away from the Rattler Cafe and near the post office."