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Worcester Guildhall gets £14k less from its city shops
RENTAL income from a Worcester shopping centre has dropped £14,000 in just one year, it has emerged.
And Guildhall chiefs are forecast that the fortunes of the Hopmarket – which is owned by the council – will take another tumble this year due to the double-dip recession.
The specialist shopping precinct, which is off Foregate Street, brought in £127,000 in the 2011/12 financial year, down from £141,000 the previous year.
There are 25 shops at the centre selling items such as ornaments, arts, crafts, toys and books, but two shops are vacant and five have changed hands during the year.
All the money raised is dished out in grants to worthy causes by the council.
A report on the Hopmarket, which was discussed during a meeting at the Guildhall, says “the forecast is for similar or slightly less levels of income” for the current financial year, which ends in March.
It also said it has been “necessary to offer incentives” to encourage new businesses to set up shop there, including rent-free periods for up to three months.
The current leases in the courtyard are due to expire in March next year and the report said it is “anticipated there may be a few units becoming vacant”.
During a meeting of the Hopmarket sub-commitee councillors said they were hoping the centre’s fortunes could improve.
Lesley Meagher, finance services manager, said: “We’re facing stable rentals at the moment and while we need to watch the leases carefully, my feeling is that they will be renewed.”
Councillor Gareth Jones said: “The Hopmarket has been promoted by the city council and the Worcester News , but footfall has always been a problem.
“If you stand at Foregate Street there’s streams of pedestrians constantly going past, but you’re lucky if you get one per cent of them to go in through the courtyard and have a look.”
The committee agreed to note the report and encouraged officers to renew efforts to get the empty units filled.