Published: 10:00, 16 April 2014
| Updated: 12:40, 16 April 2014
Businesses in Tenterden have expressed concern at another charity shop planning to open in town.
Demelza children’s hospice is interested in taking over premises in the High Street.
But traders have expressed concern at unfair competition as charity shops do not pay full business rates.
Cllr Mike Carter, president of Tenterden & District Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are very concerned at yet another charity shop coming to the town.
“Tenterden has long existed on individual traders and individual products. Charity shops are trading unfairly because they pay reduced rates.
“A lot of them now sell new stock – in what should be a free market this is not a free market and these shops are taking advantage of that.
“They are conforming to the law of the land but the law of the land is destroying the high street.”
It is understood that there are 10 charity shops in Tenterden, which Cllr Carter said was about 10% of the total number of shops, adding: “That is a concern because they [the charity shops] are in prime retail areas.
“We are going to contact our MP Damian Green about the rate relief offered to see if anything can be done.”
Shops run by registered charities qualify for an 80% discount on business rates. Local authorities have the discretion to grant the remaining 20% as a further discount, which Ashford council does not do.
Demelza communications officer Helen Francis said the charity was negotiating over a property in High Street and was looking to move in September.
The number of charity shops was also discussed at the annual town meeting.
Resident Ruth Carter said: “I am concerned about another charity shop coming to Tenterden. They are selling new goods like independent shops.
“This is a prime high street but we are becoming increasingly a poundland high street – can nothing be done?”
Jo Fox, from Ashford council, said charity shops were only able to sell a percentage of new goods if they wanted to keep their charity status.
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