Councillor Damian White, Leader of Havering Council has responded to speculation that the Retailery in Romford Market Place is closing, saying:
“The Council is a huge champion of diverse local business and leisure spaces like the Retailery and there are NO plans to close it!
“Up to now, Things Made Public have been operating this space on behalf of the Council and because of GLA funding, have had it rent and rate free.
“Things Made Public have announced that they will be walking away citing that Havering Council refused to give them Business Rates relief. The fact is our hands are tied. As a responsible local authority looking after public money, we can only offer such relief to recognised and registered charities. Unfortunately the Charity Commission deemed that Things Made Public did not meet their criteria for charitable status and therefore we cannot give them the Business Rates relief that recognised charities are able to receive.
“The Council is now looking for a new operator who will be able to ensure the Retailery can afford to pay the rent and business rates and will protect the current businesses housed in the Retailery, as well as providing a space for new ones to grow.
“I understand the Retailery is a great asset to Romford town centre and I’m pleased it’s become such an important place in so many residents’ lives. I want to reassure residents and businesses that the Council will do everything we can to find an alternative operator to keep the Retailery open.”