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Last source of income
8:00am Thursday 9th August 2012 in Letters
Sir – Having taken over the family business in the Covered Market which I then ran for more than 15 years, we were eventually forced to close because of the council’s increasing rent demands, business rates, a measure of out-of-town competition and Lib Dem transport strategy.
Do people still remember Bill “Lord” Bradshaw, Tim Horton and their fellow cohorts?
It is also worth remembering that it was the Lib Dem group led by Corinna Redman, aided by John Goddard and others that ruthlessly pursued high rents when leases were renewed in 2000, resulting in tenants being forced for the first time in the market’s history to refer the matter to court and then appeal.
The council has no interest at all in the well-being of the tenants.
For some reason, market tenants are seen by the council as being part of the second-home-owning, offshore-banking set.
It does not occur to them that tenants might, like everyone else, be struggling.
But of greater concern is the council’s indifference to the character and history of the market or the contribution it makes to the shopping hierarchy in Oxford.
The fact is the council is really not interested, as can be seen by the decline and changes the market has undergone in recent years. The Covered Market is the last real source of rental income the council owns, having sold the rest of the silver.
The pursuit of high rents, as has happened in many city centres, will drive out small independent businesses offering real choice and variety to the citizens of Oxford.
It is only a matter of time before the council will be obliged to offload the market to a developer, just as it did with Cowley and Westgate shopping centres.
Thinking about it, maybe this would not be such a bad idea having seen a few examples of markets in other countries where their landlords appear to cherish, constantly improve and develop their investment.
Alan Lester, Abingdon