For some weeks the village has been awash with rumours of a possible rent increase for the village shop which might jeopardise its viability. The greatest concern was amongst those who have devoted an enormous amount of time and energy to the establishment, management and day to day running of this important village facility.
This matter was on the agenda for last evening’s Parish Council meeting (14th May 2009) which was attended by a large number of parishioners.
The Village Shop is a non-profit making venture managed on behalf of the community by the Sulgrave Village Shop Association. It is located in the ancient charity school, former reading room and sometime billiard club in the heart of the village. This building was purchased by the Parish Council by way of a loan from the Public Works Loan Board, currently being repaid at approximately £2750 per annum and is leased to the Association at an annual rent of £1500 per annum.
After five years this rent is now due for review and as the elected body for the village the Parish Council has a duty to take into account all considerations before making a decision, including the views of shop users and non shop users alike. To this end a provisional meeting has taken place between representatives of the Council and the Shop Association, exploring the potential for future arrangements, including the question of internal and external repairs – under the terms of the lease the Association is responsible for the former and the Council the latter.
The Chairman emphasised that no decision had been taken and invited views from those present. There was universal agreement as to the immense value of the shop as a village facility and much appreciation for those giving their time and energy to its management and day to day running.
A representative of the Association pointed out that the shop was currently running at a slight loss and so every effort had to be made to minimise outgoings, including the rent. The main problems facing the Association were the potential closure of the post office, the continuing recruitment of volunteers and above all the sustainability of the management structure. The support of the Parish Council and a commitment to maintain the present rent, or even reduce it, would be invaluable. Every £1 additional outgoing by the shop would mean £5 worth of additional sales. There could also perhaps be opportunities for the Parish Council to take a bigger role with potential investment from government sources.
Other speakers and the author of a letter read out by the Chairman, emphasised the importance of the shop as a meeting place for villagers.
It was pointed out from the floor that a rent review would in itself involve legal fees and it might therefore be the best option to maintain the rent at its current level. Alternatively, the Association might be charged a peppercorn rent but take on the external maintenance responsibilities or the rent reviewed downwards to zero over a period of years.
The Chairman promised that the Council would take all of these suggestions and considerations into account and report back to the next Parish Council Meeting. The date and time of this will be advertised on the village notice board, in the newsletter and on the website.
In the meantime, emails to this website on the subject would be welcome. They would be passed on to the Parish Council and published on the website in a forum devoted to an exchange of ideas. Emails to mailto:Info@Sulgrave.org