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Did Crawley Council Leader really tell worried business owners ‘we’ll let the court decide’ over rent hikes?

It has become one of the hot topics of the year, the 30% rent increase for businesses on Tilgate Parade. But has an open letter from a councillor revealed more than just a heated debate.

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Take a walk through any part of Crawley where there are shops. How many of them are the same ones that were there just a few years ago?

In-fact if you walk through the town centre then you are almost going on a walk of memory as you pass empty units or one of the too-many-to-count coffee shops.

Parades so far have faired a little better with most retaining their stores but for how much longer?

Rules set out that rents for businesses must be set at a certain percentage of the value of the property, we will gloss over the fact that councils do have options in which they can reduce this as this has been spoken about at length before.

So a 30% rent hike, whilst shocking, is not surprising as prices increase over the years.

Tilgate Parade where rents are to increase by 30%.

But now an open letter by Tilgate Councillor Francis Guidera has potentially revealed just how much tension there really is between the business owners and the council.

In the letter (which you can read here) Mr Guidera talks about a discussion held after a recent Full Council meeting where eight Tilgate Parade business owners were ‘confronted’ by the Council Leader.

According to Mr Guidera’s letter, Council Leader Peter Lamb ‘demanded’ to know why the council should ‘subsidise’ profit making businesses.

Now heated words between disgruntled residents, business owners and opposing councillors are nothing new but according to Mr Guidera the parting words from the Council Leader appear to show that tensions are at breaking point.

“We’ll let the court decide” – these are the final words, according to Mr Guidera, that Peter Lamb used to the Crawley business owners as the conversation/debate/argument (use what you will because it is not clear what it was) came to a conclusion.

The whole country is on a political see-saw with every party taking any opportunity it can to score points from the other so letters like this can be seen to be just that, another point scoring opportunity – BUT – ‘if’ what Mr Guidera saying is right then it does beg the question of whether the council is really understanding the true concerns of the very people it represents.

CN24 approached Mr Lamb for comment but at time of publishing had not received a response.

There are rules, regulations, legislation to follow but there are also opportunities open to councils to make a difference and to help those it works hard to convince it wants to help. So why such defiance?

The see-saw has dropped on one side now, let’s see what comes out to make it tip the other way?

Business

Two Crawley McDonald’s open for walk-in today

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Today two Crawley McDonald’s will reopen for walk-in takeaway with new measures in place to help keep employees and customers safe. This follows a successful pilot in June at other sites around the country.

The two restaurants opening in Crawley for walk-in are:

Crawley town centre – Haslett Avenue

Crawley Leisure Park

With restaurant teams adjusting to new procedures to enable safe working and social distancing, stores will look a little different and things may take a little longer.

To help create a safe experience for everyone, McDonald’s has introduced a number of changes to their restaurants:

In order to help serve customers safely for takeaway:

  • McDonald’s will provide clear signposting and floor-markings to create a one-way system around restaurants for customers and delivery partner couriers, where possible.
  • A limited number of people will be allowed inside restaurants to help customers and employees adhere to social distancing – this will vary depending upon the restaurant size and layout.
  • Customers will be welcomed inside when a space becomes available and will be asked to sanitise their hands at cleaning stations that have been introduced in all restaurants.
  • There will be fewer self-order screens switched on and those in use will be sanitised at least every 30 minutes. Customers can also order via the My McDonald’s app.
  • Customers are encouraged to visit alone to collect their food where possible. For those visiting with children, play areas and digital play areas will remain closed.
  • Restaurant seating areas, customer toilets and lifts will remain closed.
  • With dining areas closed, recycling points will also remain closed. The large majority of McDonald’s packaging can be recycled, and customers are encouraged to dispose of their litter responsibly and recycle wherever possible when they get home.
  • To help protect employees and other customers, McDonald’s asks their customers not to visit if they feel unwell.

These measures are on top of those already introduced to reopened Drive-thru and McDelivery restaurants:

  • Perspex screens have been installed in the kitchens, service areas and Drive-thru windows and additional protective equipment has been provided for restaurant teams, including disposable gloves for people in customer and courier facing positions and face coverings.
  • Restaurants will return with fewer people on each shift, serving a reduced menu* over reduced hours (11am-10pm).
  • Customers are asked to use contactless payment methods and cap their spend at £25 wherever possible.
  • McDonald’s will continue to encourage the use of the My McDonald’s App to view the menu, order and pay before arrival.

As employees and the business adapt to a new way of working, McDonald’s would like to thank customers for their continued support and patience. Customers are reminded to adhere to the guidance from the government and health authorities, especially if queuing outside restaurants before there is space to enter.

On 24 June, more than 200 McDonald’s restaurants will reopen in the UK and Ireland for takeaway, joining over 1000 restaurants now open for Drive Thru or McDelivery.

Restaurants that have reopened can be found via the McDonald’s restaurant locator here.

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