Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Rent rises ahead for White Cross tennants?

Businesses and voluntary organisations based at Lancaster's huge White Cross Industrial Estate could see hikes in their rent after the site's landlord, Lancashire County Council, ordered a review of its premises charging policy.

Conservative County Councillor Geoff Driver, leader of the county council, has ordered a review to ensure a fair approach to deciding how much organisations should pay to use its premises.

Earlier this year, the county council announced it would introduce a consistent approach to charging organisations to use its buildings when they are not being used for council services.

A review has now been ordered to identify exactly what activities are being carried out by voluntary sector and other organisations in county council premises and to determine how they support the council's priorities.

Until this work is completed, with the exception of profit-making organisations, existing users will be charged at their pre-September 2012 rates whilst the review is being undertaken.

"The council has a huge number of buildings across the county and many of them are used by other organisations when our services aren't using them," says Councillor Driver.

"Unfortunately the current arrangements have evolved over many years without a clear policy and they don't offer good value for money to the taxpayers who ultimately pay for the buildings to be maintained.

"We recognise that many organisations do things that support our aims and the policy was never intended to harm those organisations financially. Through this review, we will work with voluntary organisations to determine exactly what activities are taking place in our premises and how they contribute to our priorities. We'll make sure that groups have plenty of time to prepare for any changes that might affect them.

"Meanwhile organisations making a profit out of what they do will be expected to pay a charge at the market rate, which is only fair.

"We will also look at instances where community associations are charging groups to use the county council's premises."

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