Romford street ‘becoming empty’

TRADERS in a street in the centre of Romford’s busy town centre have expressed their anger at the “disgusting” number of empty premises in the area.

At least six shops stand empty in a small area of South Street, at the end nearest the market. Although one new furniture shop has just opened in the area.

Lynne Hilder, who works at Card Box, said: “We think it’s disgusting, the rates are too high, that’s why shops aren’t staying around. They price you out.

“You had all the little shops for Christmas but they don’t last long. If they lowered the rates more shops would stay open.”

A customer in Linens Direct, who didn’t want to be named, said that she thinks trade has declined in the area since the Post Office moved from South Street to WHSmith in The Liberty.

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Christine Jackson, assistant manager of Linens Direct, said: “Obviously we want some more shops in this area. Romford needs to do something to attract people.”

Julie Warne, of Butlers, said: “A lot of people just go into The Liberty when the weather is bad but seeing empty shops here obviously puts people off.”

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Business rates are set by the Valuation Office Agency. A spokesman said: “Rateable values reflect rental values as at 1 April 2008 rather than current levels and are used by the local council to calculate business rates bills.

“If anyone has reason to believe that their rateable value does not represent the rental value ... at 1 April 2008, they should get in touch with us.”

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