Should council have blocked Brighthouse store in Hale Leys?

The new Brighthouse store in Hale Leys
The new Brighthouse store in Hale Leys

Council chiefs should have thought more carefully about allowing a controversial store to open in a shopping centre it co-owns – according to an MP.

Aylesbury Vale District Council is part of a consortium which owns Hale Leys Shopping Centre in Aylesbury, which welcomed a Brighthouse store last week.

The new Brighthouse store in Hale Leys

The new Brighthouse store in Hale Leys

Labour MP Yvonne Forvague, chaired a parliamentary inquiry into rent to own companies like Brighthouse, which charge high rates of interest to people on limited incomes in rent to buy deals.

She said that the authority should be looking for ways to help people that would stear them away from debt.

She said: “If someone could afford to buy any of these items they would pay far less than if they bought them in this way.

“These companies make a big thing that you can hand things back at any time, a huge number of goods are handed back before the payment period, then they do a great sale in reconditioned goods.

“A washing machine that you can buy in John Lewis for a few hundred pounds, which includes their five star service plan, would cost you £1,800 in one of these shops. During the inquiry we found that there was a real lack of transparency in the weekly payment charges, there is a lot of upselling and people are not being properly told how much they are going to have to pay.

“I think that the government should look at encouraging people to build up a small pot of money, so that if something breaks down they can replace it without having to use these shops.”

She added: “I understand the problems that local authorities have when looking at these types of shops, and nobody wants to see empty shops in the town centre.

“But I think that the local authority could be looking at other ways to help people, perhaps credit unions, they need to be looking at other options too.”

A spokesman for Aylesbury Vale District Council said that because the authority is not responsible for the day to day running of Hale Leys, it would be inappropriate for it to respond to Mrs Forvague’s comments.