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Rent hikes anger chip stall owners

PUBLISHED: 17:54 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:29 03 July 2010

RENT CONCERN: Robin Blatten on his Great Yarmouth chip stall.

RENT CONCERN: Robin Blatten on his Great Yarmouth chip stall.

Dominic Bareham

traditional Great Yarmouth chips may not yet be in danger of dying out, but stallholders on the market say the rents they have to pay are making it increasingly hard for them to keep their businesses running.

traditional Great Yarmouth chips may not yet be in danger of dying out, but stallholders on the market say the rents they have to pay are making it increasingly hard for them to keep their businesses running.

Currently, Yarmouth Borough Council charges £941 for 28 days' rent on chip stalls selling rolls, and £901 on stalls not selling rolls.

But although the rents were frozen last year, a number of stallholders are concerned about the future, especially as customers were tightening their belts as a result of the recent inflationary price rises in the cost of petrol and food.

Robin Blatten, who runs Brewers Chip Saloon, said his rent had increased from the £656 per 28 days in 1995 to the current £901.

He was particularly concerned the borough council charged less for other stalls in the same area and feared the chip stalls were being targeted because they were more profitable.

To make ends meet, Mr Blatten said he needed to make £2,000 a month “before he could even start thinking about buying the chips.”

He added: “It worries me that if I came to sell the business it would be common knowledge they are getting devalued. They are constantly devaluing the business by what is going on.”

Julie Marsden, who owns Marsden's chip stall, said rent and expenses did not help trade and some stallholders had taken over their stalls without realising the amount of effort needed to make them successful.

But she did not feel the seaside staple was in danger of dying out, and said her own business was doing good trade.

Another stall holder, who did not wish to be named, said 16 years ago there were only four stalls on the market, but that figure has increased to nine, bringing greater competition. She said a number of stalls have been sold on after council rules preventing the sale of stalls were relaxed in the early 1990s.

Other factors including competition from fast food chains and the position of the stall on the market were also blamed. Some owners felt being placed closer to Market Place where crowds gathered to watch live entertainments gave some stalls a competitive advantage.

Julie added: “People do come to buy these chip stalls, but do not realise how much it costs with rent and expenses and that is why they struggle sometimes.”

Nobody from the council was available for comment.

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