March 11 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, February 27, 2014
An independent trader has warned that “crippling” business rates will leave Ipswich town centre a retail wasteland occupied by nothing but charity shops.
Dennis Davis, director at the 99p store Yippee, said the £9,500 monthly rates on a pound store on the Cornhill had made the business untenable and forced its closure.
“The rates were so crippling that it is not worth it to stay,” he said.“It’s ridiculous - particularly in the current climate.”
“I tried my hardest to do a deal with the council but they wouldn’t budge so we are having to hand it back to the landlord.”
The Cornhill has been the focus of a major revival campaign with a new look revealed for the site earlier this year.
The multi-million pound regeneration project has been supported by key players in the town, including Ben Gummer MP, Ipswich Borough Council and Ipswich Central. Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said: “This is a very important site in our town centre. We want to actively work with the owners to explore opportunities to restore it permanently to its former glory.”
However Mr Davis, who also has a Yippee store in Carr Street, Ipswich, claims independent traders will be priced out of the town centre, regardless of any plans for improvement.
He says there will be a mass exodus to retail parks where the business rates are lower, parking is free and footfall remains high. “Independent traders cannot afford to have high street shops in Ipswich,” he said. “That’s why the town is full of charity shops.
“People still want to shop in the local bakers and butchers and other independent traders – but they’re all being priced out of the market.”