Portishead councillors to fight rent hikes on High Street

Portishead High Street.

Portishead High Street. - Credit: Archant

Calls have been made for a council to rethink rent hikes which are impacting traders on Portishead High Street.

Bristol City Council (BCC) owns several properties in the town centre, and Portishead Town Council is concerned by increases in rent and leasing costs which have been suffered by businesses.

Similarly to other areas across the country, some retailers in Portishead are struggling to make ends meet amid declining footfall and rising overheads.

The Times understands BCC’s hikes have played a role in the closure of prominent shops in the town, although this is disputed by the authority.

The town council voted at its meeting in late-January at the Folk Hall to try to arrange a meeting with Bristol’s mayor Marvin Rees with hopes of helping business in Portishead.

Vice chairman Lesley Cottrell said: “I suggest we have a meeting with the mayor to discuss the impact this has on our High Street.

“When Tinca Gallery sadly closed down last year, I went in and asked them what had happened and one of the things they said was they asked BCC if it was possible to buy the building and were told no.

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“It may be something we don’t stand any chance of success at, but I think it’s worth a try.”

Chairman Peter Mitchell insisted the town council ‘can’t just collapse and give up’, but Cllr Ros Cruse warned against the town council meddling in the issue.

She said: “You have got to remember leases are between the people who own the land and those who lease the land and actually, if you came to me I would tell you to ‘bugger off’.

“One of the reasons the High Street is thriving is we have people coming from other areas to do the tour of shops.

“Be careful, because you are interfering in something you may not be welcome in.”

A BCC spokesman said its ownership of the properties is an investment to ‘generate income for the council’.

They added: “The council has a statutory duty to obtain a market level rent for the shops, and this is what it does when leases are reviewed and renewed.

“Rents in the High Street have recently shown an improvement and this is reflected in the rents currently being agreed.

“The council is not aware of any instances where rent increases have caused any of the shops it owns to close.”