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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.



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.


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.”


West Sussex raises alert level as more coronavirus cases are confirmed



The current alert level in West Sussex has been escalated to “yellow” (raised local alertness) which means there is an increasing number of confirmed cases of coronavirus. This is in line with the increase in cases being seen nationally. There were 116 confirmed cases in West Sussex in the last seven days.

The County Council has introduced a traffic light system (green, yellow, amber and red) to keep residents informed about the current rate of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the county.

With the rise in cases, residents are being asked to take preventative action to stop the spread of the virus.

This includes following the “Rule of Six” which means you should not meet in groups of more than six people from outside your household both indoors and outdoors.

Residents should continue to wash hands regularly, practise social distancing, wear a face mask when appropriate and get tested when they have symptoms.

Amanda Jupp, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said:

“So far in West Sussex we have seen a relatively low number of cases of coronavirus. However in line with national trends there has been an increase in recent weeks of the number of people who have tested positive.

“It is important we do all we can to keep numbers as low as possible. In line with government guidance, please do not meet in groups of more than six people. It is also important to continue to wash your hands regularly, keep socially distanced, wear a face mask where appropriate and get tested when you have symptoms.

“I am very grateful to all residents for their continued efforts to ensure the county remains safe. We have done so well to control the spread of COVID-19 in the county up until now and we are keen to keep it that way to ensure we can #KeepWestSussexSafe.”

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