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21 April 2017

‘Hull Council’s intransigence may ruin City of Culture retail legacy’ says FSB

News that the Prem Clothing store on Hull’s Jameson Street has closed its doors has come as no surprise to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), since its campaign to compensate traders for the loss of trade due to the extensive two-year-long streetworks has fallen on deaf ears.

The FSB maintains that many city-centre traders were brought to near-bankruptcy by the massive disruption to trade and, with grossly depleted cash reserves, are only now having to deal with the losses amassed during that period.

FSB Branch Chairman John Olivant commented:

“The planners behind Hull’s public realm redevelopment have not accounted for the two years’ loss of trade for city centre businesses, which is all part of the true cost of the project. Clearly the Council expects that this excessive ‘hidden’ cost will be borne solely by the traders themselves. This is manifestly unfair to businesses that have undergone the most testing of times and are now struggling to make ends meet in the aftermath.

“When Liverpool embarked on a similar project prior to their year as City of Culture in 2008, traders were afforded a year rate-free, followed by three years at 50% rate reduction. This enabled businesses to ride out the storm and secured for that city a legacy of a vibrant retail offering which endures to this day. In the case of Hull, there are many small independent retailers – who have traditionally provided the colour and diversity for which local retailing was renowned – who are now in the advanced stages of financial distress. Despite the benefit of a first-class redeveloped city infrastructure, their struggle will continue until, inevitably, some will fail.

“Hull City Council needs to urgently reconsider its intransigence on this matter or the hoped-for City of Culture legacy may turn out to be streets of vacant retail units.”