Kiosk rental offer was ‘disgraceful’

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KIOSK tenants on Skegness Foreshore say the district council’s request for a 50 per cent rental increase is ‘disgraceful’ in the current economic climate.

Faced with declining profits, business owners claim their landlord’s initial rental offer would have made their position untenable.

Although subsequent negotiations lowered the rental agreement, several tenants felt that a responsible local authority should have been more supportive of businesses rather than ‘playing games with their livelihoods’ by making unreasonable financial requests.

Kiosk tenant of 25 years Gary Marshall said: “In the middle of a recession with shops closing to ask for any rental increase is obscene.

“A landlord is lucky to keep a tenant let alone negotiate an increase.”

Mr Marshall calculated that his hourly wage would have equated to just £2 per hour had he accepted East Lindsey District Council’s initial rent agreement in September.

He and other kiosk tenants near to Bottons Pleasure Beach considered closing their businesses for good when they received the request.

Only after months of negotiating and the refusal of several other unreasonable offers were they able to arrive at a rental increase that was minor enough to be considered.

Chairman of Skegness and Wainfleet Labour Party Brenda Futers was aghast at hearing the kiosk tenants’ plight in the midst of an economic downturn and raised the issue at a Skegness Town Council meeting last month.

“M&S remains empty, La Senza, Peacocks, Bonmarche even Dorothy Perkins and Evans are unlikely to survive and there are kiosks that have not opened so why is the district council increasing rents of some kiosks by up to 50 per cent?”

A spokesperson for ELDC has since made assurances that the local authority is fully committed to helping businesses grow and thrive, explaining that the 50 per cent request was just the starting point for negotiations as is commonplace with most tenancy agreements.

However Mr Marshall’s dissatisfaction with the rental request was not the first time he has raised grievances with his landlord over the course of their 25 year relationship.

When he first opened for business a ‘user clause’ restricted kiosks from selling goods that conflicted with one another. He claims his profits suffered dramatically the moment ELDC began allowing kiosks to revoke that clause and sell whatever they liked in return for additional rent. Two years ago he complained to Skegness MP Mark Simonds, after ELDC provided grants to support a smoothie kiosk, which sold similar goods to his own.

“My tax was subsidising a shop next door, which was in direct competition with my own business,” he said.