Romford’s Retailery not closing

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.”

2 thoughts on “Romford’s Retailery not closing

  • December 8, 2018 at 8:57 am
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    Please fact check your statements. More than happy to send over any evidence should you wish:

    (1) Things Made Public CIC are an asset locked not for profit organisation and have NEVER made an application to the Charity Commission to become a Charity – this is categorically untrue. Things Made Public CIC are not asking, and have never asked for mandatory rates relief granted to a charity. As an eligible not for profit organisation they have applied for discretionary rates relief – which is designed to aid venues exactly like this one. For example, Waltham Forest Borough has launched a programme of discretionary rate relief to specifically support business incubator hubs such as The Retailery, designed to help small businesses thrive within the Borough.

    (2) You do NOT have to be a Charity to apply for discretionary rates relief. I refer to the Council guidance on the matter:

    “1.0 INTRODUCTION: The Discretionary Rate Relief scheme assists voluntary and community groups in Havering by paying part or all of their non-domestic rates bill. It is open to all voluntary and community groups who pay non-domestic rates on property in Havering. This is in addition to any mandatory rate relief awarded to registered charities.”

    (3) The Council do not own ‘The Retailery’, they have the lease on the building. Therefore when Things Made Public leave, so does The Retailery.

    (4) The Council’s expression of interest states to ‘new operators’ states they would be “open to operators diversifying its use and identifying other income streams” and indicate profit can be generated from “monthly licenses from occupants, cultural events, business support activities and events and pop-up retail activities”. – perhaps Damien forgot that bit?

  • December 8, 2018 at 6:19 pm
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    So, in Summary:
    – Things Made Public was actively denied council support that are perfectly elegible to, by the own Council’s guidance.
    – Things Made Public CIC own The Retailery’s intellectual property, they created the community events and directly signed the rental contracts with each of businesses that shared the office space. All that goes away with them.
    – The council doesn’t have an operator at 6 weeks of handover. They haven’t arranged or discussed how to carry on with any of activities or to renew the businesses renting the shared space.
    – Their own brief on their search for a new operator includes allowing for anyway to diversify business even if it is a new business models.

    Please, please Damian White, correct me if I’m wrong because otherwise…

    The Retailery is closing and the council is responsible.

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