Letter: We need action to save Kettering’s high street

New Look, Kettering
New Look, Kettering

Letter writer Ivan Humphrey bemoans the high rents and business rates which he says have forced another high street chain out of Kettering...

It’s no wonder that another High Street chain has decided to leave Kettering when, and according to this newspaper’s report, the rent for New Look’s premises in Gold Street was £3,000 a month, with business rates, set by the Government, of at least another £1,000 a month to go on top of the rent.

How much rent would the now empty M&S in Kettering command, bearing in mind the difference in the total amount of floor space?

The owner of Sports Direct, and possibly the biggest retail tycoon in the UK, has said that landlords, and the rent that they charge, are one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of more shops opening up on the High Street.

This is not to mention one of the main reasons for thousands of shop closures nationally.

Surely, it is better for landlords and the country as a whole to have a business trading from a premises, paying rent and business rates.

This is not to mention the income tax and VAT receipts that a viable business also generates, rather than thousands of empty premises all over the country contributing nothing whatsoever to the economy.

Rents and business rates have to be reduced, certainly for the short to medium terms.

When charity shops, like Kettering’s Oxfam, are also forced out of the retail landscape due to rising costs, it just goes to show that something more has to be done to save the high street.

We can start by the Government setting the rate at which rent is paid to a landlord based on the size of the premises, just like they do now with business rates and council tax.

And those rents and business rates should be capped for five years to allow for a business to get established, and to stop any more shops from going under.

After all, council tax was frozen for five years in the aftermath of the banking crisis of 2008. It goes without saying that we should be doing more than we currently are to save our High Street.

Ivan Humphrey, Kettering