Sunday, July 20, 2003
| posted by Simon |
7:13 pm |
I don't think I needed much prodding to spill this, but Steve has prodded gently, so here goes.
When we signed our lease for the shop we were aware that a new development was in the pipeline, we didn't really have any idea what was involved so we made sure we had a get-out clause in the contract. A move that wasn't lost on our landlord who included a similar clause of their own. Over the coming months the picture cleared somewhat and we began to see what the intentions of the council were.
A company called Harrison developments were given the contract "to bring Workington into the 21st century". The big news was that Debenhams was to be the flagship store, as soon as that was made public a whole host of other main street chains threw their hats in the ring. Pretty soon it became obvious that most of the small independent traders, including ourselves, were out of the equation. After a few phone calls on the pretence of market research, I managed to get my hands on a copy of the proposed layout. I got more than I bargained for; a booklet came in the post, which showed the plans and also a list of the proposed rent prices for each unit. The cheapest unit is almost a 100% increase in cost for us, and with approximately 16 small businesses looking for alternate accommodation, our chances are slim to none.
I have heard two interesting facts recently. First, Debenhams have the last say in which shops are situated around them. Second, they usually negotiate their business rates to be £0.
One more sinister thing in this story is one I cannot prove, even after several underhand phone calls. I obviously can't say what I think yet, but it includes public servants working indirectly for private industry all at taxpayer's expense. I know it's true, I just can't prove it yet.
I'll keep you posted, and if you have any information on Harrison developments please let me know.