Friday, 31st October 2014

Fears for businesses

TENANTS of a Bridgnorth industrial estate are worried for the future of their businesses because of the shake-up of Shropshire’s councils. They are seeking assurances over the future of the workshops they rent after they failed to receive their usual renewal option on the lease.

Businesses on Stanley Lane Industrial Estate were expecting a letter two months ago from Shropshire County Council, which owns the site jointly with Bridgnorth District Council. The renewal letters normally go out every three years but they failed to materialise.

Some units need repair and maintenance, although this has not been a major issue with tenants. But they fear the lack of upkeep could be a bad sign and that  plans are being made for the future of the site which might affect their businesses. To complicate matters, both the district and county council will cease to exist from April next year when the new unitary authority Shropshire Council comes into being.

Ian Pearce, owner of the motorcycle repair business Sam Pearce and Son, has been based on the estate for 23 years. He is worried by the missing letter and  the lack of information.

“We have been told verbally that the leases are going to be allowed to run”, said Mr Pearce. “Nothing is being done to maintain the buildings, which makes us concerned .Some of us have been here a long time and want to stay here”.

Brad Burn, owner of Bradley’s the Tannery, added: “We need to know what is being planned. We have been here since 1984 and can’t move out on a whim”.

Another long term tenant, said: “We really want to be given a statement about the future of these units”.

But Shropshire County Council said that plans for the estate were in the early stages Chris Hill, Shropshire County Council’s enterprise and development manager, said: “We are currently looking at options to secure the long-term future of the business units at Stanley Lane Industrial Estate in Bridgnorth. We will aim to support and help safeguard local businesses.”

Bridgnorth District Council leader Elizabeth Yeomans said that the district had not been consulted over any plans for the estate.

“Although the estate is jointly owned, it is managed by the county council”, she said. “We would not want to see any action taken that would put local businesses at risk. We will be looking into why the letters have not been sent out to tenants”.