Reporter: KAY DINGSDALE
Date online: 05 February 2013
Shocked firms given a month to leave run-down centre
ANGRY businessmen forced to quit their premises have accused Oldham Council of not doing enough to support small firms.
The one-man bands at Acorn Business Centre, Barry Street, have been given a month to leave. The council, which leased the building, is handing it back to its owners.
Currently 13 businesses operate from the units: several of them are struggling to find new premises and some fear they might have to close.
The council says it costs too much to lease the centre, which requires major repairs, and insists it has offered help to find suitable relocations.
George Blatch, a service engineer for the printing trade, who lives in Oldham, has had premises at Acorn for years and says the closure will force him into an early retirement he doesn’t want.
“I like what I do,” he said. “There have been rumours about these premises, which have been gradually run down over the years. We have been very badly treated.”
David Wright, who lives in Royton, runs an equestrian-wear business from Acorn: “The closure has been very poorly handled. They knew the lease was up but didn’t have the bottle to tell us and have only given us a month’s notice.”
Councillor Dave Hibbert said: “The council has decided not to renew its lease. We are reviewing our entire property portfolio and each asset must provide value for money. Despite the rental income this facility is a significant cost to the council.
“The site needs investment, and major repairs aren’t affordable. We will do whatever we can to help and are talking to all the parties involved.
“We have sympathy for the individual tenants and are working hard to help them.”
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