Council clash of interests

June 06, 2011 12:48 PM

Astonishingly, Bath & North East Somerset Council is, by far, the biggest landlord in the city of Bath, holding on to 1200 properties worth over half a billion pounds. Sometimes this can lead to a conflict of interests, as revealed by one local taxpayer.

Our overpaid council executives repeatedly justify their jobs by claiming that their decisions are designed to encourage business and bring money to Bath and yet one decision reveals the very opposite is true. With the rate of shop vacancies going up in Bath, it seems crazy for the council to remove the coach parking stands at Orange Grove, which provides significant numbers of customers for the retailers located there. They are fighting back against the decision, but one of them has pointed out the clash of interests this has exposed.

Retailer Mark Croud has only recently taken on the lease of a council-owned shop in Orange Grove and made his business calculations based on the footfall delivered by the coach stops. ‘I have invested tens of thousands of pounds securing the lease of my business,’ he says, ‘and as you will appreciate the council rent and rates are not cheap. If your plans are put into effect, the decrease in footfall will have a dramatic affect on the viability of my business, to the negative, and who in their right mind would buy the lease and good will from me?’

‘I am left to wonder,’ he concludes pointedly, ‘ why the council having read my business plan and knowing of the planned proposals allowed me to sign the lease without comment.’ Mr Croud and other Orange Grove retailers are now seeking compensation for loss of business—which will, of course, come out of the taxpayers’ pocket.

A similar loss for the Bath taxpayer has occurred with the closure of another council-owned property, the popular Binks restaurant in the centre of the city, which was running successfully in private hands, but is now being shut for refurbishment on the grounds of ‘good taste’, but is costing thousands in lost rent, and compensation to the leaseholder who had his lease terminated early. All in all, not good business for the local taxpayer.

Tim Newark, Bath & South-West TaxPayers’ AllianceAstonishingly, Bath & North East Somerset Council is, by far, the biggest landlord in the city of Bath, holding on to 1200 properties worth over half a billion pounds. Sometimes this can lead to a conflict of interests, as revealed by one local taxpayer.

Our overpaid council executives repeatedly justify their jobs by claiming that their decisions are designed to encourage business and bring money to Bath and yet one decision reveals the very opposite is true. With the rate of shop vacancies going up in Bath, it seems crazy for the council to remove the coach parking stands at Orange Grove, which provides significant numbers of customers for the retailers located there. They are fighting back against the decision, but one of them has pointed out the clash of interests this has exposed.

Retailer Mark Croud has only recently taken on the lease of a council-owned shop in Orange Grove and made his business calculations based on the footfall delivered by the coach stops. ‘I have invested tens of thousands of pounds securing the lease of my business,’ he says, ‘and as you will appreciate the council rent and rates are not cheap. If your plans are put into effect, the decrease in footfall will have a dramatic affect on the viability of my business, to the negative, and who in their right mind would buy the lease and good will from me?’

‘I am left to wonder,’ he concludes pointedly, ‘ why the council having read my business plan and knowing of the planned proposals allowed me to sign the lease without comment.’ Mr Croud and other Orange Grove retailers are now seeking compensation for loss of business—which will, of course, come out of the taxpayers’ pocket.

A similar loss for the Bath taxpayer has occurred with the closure of another council-owned property, the popular Binks restaurant in the centre of the city, which was running successfully in private hands, but is now being shut for refurbishment on the grounds of ‘good taste’, but is costing thousands in lost rent, and compensation to the leaseholder who had his lease terminated early. All in all, not good business for the local taxpayer.

Tim Newark, Bath & South-West TaxPayers’ Alliance

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