RUGBY’S parish reverend has defended the town’s ‘hard working’ traders, saying professionally- run charity shops are not helping them struggle through hard times on the high street.
Rev Mark Beach from St Andrew’s Church, who is also a board member of business group Rugby First, has joined the growing number of people who are unhappy about the amount of charity shops opening in the town centre that are run in a professional manner with their own dedicated buying departments, yet receive an 80 per cent reduction in business rates.
Mr Beach said: “I think it’s entirely fair that charity shops which really are charity shops should get the discount on the rates.
“When the majority of the stuff they sell has been donated by people in the community because they no longer want them and the people that working in them are volunteers then that’s fair.
“But when it’s obvious they are part of a big organisation which employs a lot of staff to run it and it’s difficult to distinguish whether the goods are second hand or not then it’s unfair competition for a lot of hard working traders in the town.
“There are a lot of shops that are vacant in the town centre and people, particularly the independent ones, are really working to survive.
“The town would be a lot worse off without them and this is one more burden that they have to bare.
“I wholeheartedly support charity but my genuine fear is that some aren’t.
“It’s making life really difficult for traders in the town.”
One of the shops that has faced criticism is the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Furniture and Electrical store which opened last week.
The shop in the former Walkabout unit is the 112th one to open across the UK. The charity said that due to the success of selling furniture and electricals it will be opening a further 80 stores in the next two years.
BHF said the stores raise £22 million per year which goes towards charity work.