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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.

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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.”

Gatwick

Report reveals Airbus missed drone by just metres at Gatwick Airport

The crew claim that had autopilot been on then they could have collided with the drone.

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A report just released has revealed that an Airbus A320 narrowly avoided hitting a drone as it came in to land at Gatwick Airport back in the summer.

This is the second narrow miss reported by crew as they came in to land at Gatwick this year. In April another A320 crew reported having to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

This occasion the drone was much closer though.

The report by the UK Airprox Board says that the A320 pilot was in the late stages of a manual ILS approach into Gatwick.

Interestingly it also says that the crew had taken on extra fuel dure to reports of drone activtity in the London area and also by the controller.

As the plane descended past 350ft the captain called out “drone” which both crew saw being slightly left ahead of them.

The crew were able to keep visual contact with the drone as they flew past but the drone was only 100m away and at the same height as the plane.

The crew were unable to make an evasive manoevre due to the speed of the event and they later reported that if the plane had still been on autopilot then they believed there was a high probablity they would have struck the drone.

The first officer, a drone enthusiast, identified the drone as a DJI Inspire.

The incident happened on the 8th July and was classed as a category A which is the highest risk category given.

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