4:10pm Thursday 3rd October 2013
AN INDEPENDENT trader in Warrington is calling on the council to open its books to reveal how much it has been forking out for rents at a neighbouring shopping mall.
The owner of Argents on Horsemarket Street has spoken out against the free rents which have been handed out to businesses based at the Hatters Row Wedding & Lifestyle Centre.
Chris Glover said: “The people of the town are funding this building for a huge amount of money.
“I would like to know how much that building has cost the council in heating, electricity and rents.
“Everyone I have spoken to agrees it is not fair and thinks it should be a level playing field.”
The 58-year-old from Haydock is raising concerns as she fears rival businesses could be making use of the free rent and rates while in direct competition with her own with plans to expand her offering from jewellery and gifts to create tattoo and piercing studios.
“We have been here for two years building our customer base while we are paying the high street rates.
“They could put us out of business.
“We do well where we are but because there’s a recession on we are not doing as well and we are holding our own.
A council spokesman said: “The council launched a business start-up initiative at Hatters Wedding & Lifestyle Centre in 2012 because it is committed to encouraging new businesses and revitalising the town centre.
This included several incentive schemes which included rent free periods of up to a year in some cases.
“Following support from local media the council received over 120 applications and went through a strict selection process to pick which businesses had been successful.
“A year later, early indications are that the initiative has been a great success with many tenants having established their business on a secure footing and creating employment opportunities. The council is currently in negotiations for longer term commercial agreements in the centre with each business on an individual basis.”
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