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

Crawley College to reopen following incident

Published

on

Crawley College will be beginning a phased reopening to students from tomorrow, Thursday 29 April.

The phased reopening will take place between tomorrow and Tuesday 4 May with full details by courses provided on the college website www.crawley.ac.uk . Students should check details before returning to campus.

The campus has remained closed for the past two days following police investigations into the incident that took place at the college on Monday (26 April).

Vicki Illingworth, Principal of Crawley College, said:

“We are looking forward to welcoming our students and staff back to the college.

“We’d like to reassure everyone, the college is safe and they will be well supported in their return to the campus.

“Sussex Police have confirmed that this is being treated as an isolated incident which is not terror related and nobody else is being sought in connection with the incident.  The individual concerned is in police custody and has been charged.”

“We are now focussed on ensuring we can bring students and staff safely back on site. We’re proud of the service we provide to our students to give them opportunities in education and training.

“I can reassure everyone that this was a one-off incident and we have strategies in place to keep everyone as safe as possible, as well as giving the students the support they need to come back and join us to complete their studies successfully.”

Vicki also echoed her earlier comments, paying tribute to the staff who supported students who were on site during the events of Monday afternoon.

She added:

“I continue to remain full of admiration of our team. They pulled together on Monday and implemented all of the protocols we have in place to keep students safe.

“They’ve continued to work together to support each other and their students over the past couple of days – and they will continue to do so when students return to campus.

“We are also particularly proud of the two members of staff who acted so bravely and swiftly to apprehend the individual before the police arrived. They acted selflessly to protect their students and the college community. They have asked for privacy during this time.

“It was a very intense time for everyone involved.

“The students who were kept inside the college and who were part of the emergency evacuation were supported throughout by our staff and counselling services have been available to them this week. These services will continue to be in place for them to access.

“We’ve continued to be in touch with our students through our support services to check that they are ok and we will resume face-to-face counselling as soon as we can.”

Work is taking place at the college campus to repair some damage which was sustained during the evacuation and subsequent investigations, with teams working hard to ensure the campus is ready for reopening.

The college would like to thank students, staff, the Police and Emergency Services and the wider community for their ongoing support and understanding.

Continue Reading

Trending