Friday, 15 June 2012

Storey Centre in crisis as rent rises hit home

Tenants are quitting Lancaster's  Storey Creative Industries Centre because of a rise in service charges.

The Lancaster Guardian reports bosses at the Centre are grappling with a financial crisis, after companies occupying the building on Meeting House Lane were hit with a bill for £99,651 in additional charges late last year.

The demand went out soon after Lancaster City Council, which owns the building, baled out the centre with a £90,000 loan after it lost its public funding. Tenants, whose bills were effectively doubled, have refused to pay up - and some, such as technology comopany Moshen, have moved out.

The building houses the offices of Lancaster LitFest, the Tourist Office and has spaces for performance used by local arts groups such as Spotlight, as well as offices for businesses.

One tenant, who asked not to be named, told the Guardian: “You have to ask why this problem wasn’t tackled sooner. The Storey board and the city council knew the grant funding was going to be lost. Instead of cutting costs they just decided to charge the tenants whose rent keeps the place going. Now there is going to be an exodus.”

Lancaster City Council and the Storey board issued a joint statement yesterday which revealed that the council plans to step in and manage the building directly.

Read the story online in the Lancaster Guardian or this week's print edition, on sale now in all good local newsagents

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your article implies that tenants were moving out because of future service charge rises. The immediate problem was that tenants were invoiced for £91,000 of retrospective service charges covering only the first ten months from April 2011 to January 2012. The likelihood was of further charges following which would have made future tenancy impossible. City Council officers were fully involved in the decision to impose these retrospective charges. They believed them to be in line with lease terms. However the lease also stated that charges couldn't be imposed where it involved mismanagement or negligence. The invoices were subsequently withdrawn but the revenue black hole remained.