Connect with us

News

Outcry as Crawley Council increases retailers rents by 30%

Some of the small businesses have expressed urgent concern that they will not be able to survive under the new rents.

Published

on

Tilgate Parade where rents for retailers is to go up 30%.

Over the past years it has been common knowledge that the level of rates paid by retailers has been one of the highest in Europe.

As more and more trade moved online businesses felt the effect of the loss of footfall and so began the panic on the high street as one after the other large and small retailers didn’t just begin to suffer, they died and in some instances became extinct.

But during all this period the real problem being hailed by the business owners was this devastating rate that local councils actually had no control over. So it became a political issue. Opposing parties clamoring about how government was killing off the high street and something had to be done.

Of course there were the odd offers that were thrown in to bring new parties to the table but these diminished quickly leaving businesses with a hefty bill to pay.

Local councillors expressed concerns and promised action but in reality there was nothing they could do. It was not their decision. It was not something they had any control over.

But, there was a light. An area that they did have control over. Something that would allow the high street to not just survive, but be given the opportunity to come back and be given equal footing with that digital age that had swept across it.

Rents!

As rates use the value of your property to calculate the amount you have to pay then they are bound by the economy and local climate for property prices.

But rents are bound only by the landlord and in the cases of many retailers across the town this is the council and whilst there are guidelines they are only that, guidelines.

So it is terrifying news that Crawley Council has decided to hike rents up in Tilgate Parade for the businesses there by 30%. Now Tilgate Parade is not alone but is the parade that is currently under review.

Unlike the town centre Crawley Council owns all the towns parades and as each one has come to a point of review the rents have been going up.

With the parade at its 5 year rent review and with a consultant brought in it has been decided despite a 6 month negotiation to go with the huge increase.

A Council is obligated to keep rents at a price in line with the Local Government Act 1972 and words of “legal requirement” and “hands are tied” have been used by three seperate Councillors justifying the huge increase.

Well the truth is actually both are incorrect.

Now this is where it gets a litte confusing but stick with it.

Under Section 123 of Local Government Act 1972 a Council is required to secure the best value reasonably obtainable for all its property dealings and the rent that the Council will either charge as a landlord or pay as a tenant, should be based upon the market value of comparable properties.

Whilst this means the council is obligated to increase the rents there is no legal requirement for them to go the maximum possible increase which in this case appears to be 30%. The Council is actually able to use discretion and negotiate an increase that would, in the words of the 1972 Government act be “reasonably obtainable”.

There is also another factor that could make a possible difference.

This requirement to secure the best value from properties only applies to terms that are over 7 years. If a term is 7 years or less then the price is entirely dictated to by a Council with no requirement to meet market price.

But, of course the leases held with most retailers are above 7 years and this increase is based on a 5 year review within this. But can this not be changed, after all it is the very council that dictates term length.

Now of course Crawley Council needs to earn money. It has a deluge of services it has to pay for and the only way it can pay for these is with among other things rents.

But when the danger is that local businesses will not be able to pay an increase and therefore end up closing, potentially leaving space for a corporate to come in and take over then the local neighbourly purpose of a parade disappears for ever. Is that what people want?

Crawley Council Leader Peter Lamb said:

“I am very happy to go back and have a look to see if there is any discretion to take into account where businesses are struggling. Ultimately we dont want to see anyone put into unnecessary hardship but we do have to find a way to fund public services while we continue to see the government cut our income.”

News

Give Crawley back its police, demands towns council leader

Crawley Council Leader Peter Lamb has called for the Prime Minister to return funding to Crawley’s police after he says new figures show cuts to police budgets are much higher than the new funding recently announced.

Published

on

In a press statement Cllr Lamb says that Sussex Police have lost 32.3% of their funding from central government, leaving local policing in a weakened state.

Speaking about the state of policing in Crawley, Cllr Lamb said:

“Following the loss of frontline officers, crime and antisocial behaviour are now the top issues residents raise with me on the doorstep. They are tired of seeing it in our town centre and across Crawley’s neighbourhoods. Only the police have the power to end the decline and only the Government has the funding to give us the officers we need.

“We deserve more from our Prime Minister than empty promises, it’s time he learnt to keep his word and gave Crawley back its police.”

Crawley Labour adds that this news comes on the back of recent revelations that despite 98% of police officers lost from the service in recent years having been cut from the frontline, around 7,000 police recruits will never see frontline duty.

Continue Reading

Trending