Support builds for family business set to lose its lease at Aylesbury retail park this weekend

The Bucks Herald has been contacted by a series of readers who have contacted the council regarding this business' potential removal.

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 1:08 pm

Grassroots Aylesbury business, Fruity Tooty's will see its lease at Vale Retail Park expire this weekend.

Ahead of the business' potential removal from a central spot in town on August 1, several Aylesbury residents are writing to the council to oppose the move.

The Bucks Herald has seen copies of letters being sent to Bucks Council leader Martin Tett urging him to support this business.

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Fruity Tooty photo from Facebook

One reader outlined 'dismay' at the decision given how popular the grocers is.

Fruity Tooty currently operates from Unit Five of Vale Retail Park, in April it was revealed that a major retailer was taking over Units One to Three at the site.

On Friday (July 23), The Bucks Herald revealed the council approved a £1.8M loan to enable this retailer to set up in Aylesbury.

The council cannot reveal which company will be taking over the units at this time due to a confidentiality agreement.

Fruity Tooty remains hopeful that it might still be able to do business in Aylesbury. It encourages its customers to contact Councillor Tett and Councillor John Chilver the Cabinet Member for finance, resources, property and assets.

Aylesbury North Councillor Susan Morgan who has been in contact with Councillor Chilver regarding Fruity Tooty's potential eviction provided the following statement to the Bucks Herald on Friday.

She said: "I was deeply disappointed to hear that Fruity Tooty had been given seven days notice to vacate Unit 5, Aylesbury Retail Park. Initially I contacted the Conservative Cabinet member John Chilver who claimed to know nothing about this matter, despite documentary evidence, Cabinet decisions made on 30th March and a significant public works loan to secure a lease.

"He has not responded to emails, and yet it’s in the Conservative manifesto they would ‘support local businesses helping them to unleash their enormous potential.’ Not one Conservative Councillor has offered any assistance with this.

"How can he stand idly by and watch a family who have worked tremendously hard throughout this pandemic for our residents and do nothing to help them? Clearly the Conservative manifesto only applies to National Retailers."

When challenged on Fruity Tooty's imminent exit in last week's council meeting, Councillor Chilver said: "We always want to support our local businesses and traders as far as we can.

"And we were very happy to agree a year's occupancy in a vacant unit in vale park for the trader you refer to. But this was always a short term arrangement and after three lease extensions it is not possible to extend it further in the current location.

"We are actively seeking to find other premises in town that they can relocate to."

One reader raised the same point as Councillor Morgan in a letter to the Bucks Council Leader, referencing the good work the family business has done in the community.

Stating the business provided a safe place for people to shop during the most challenging periods of the pandemic. It also delivered food to vulnerable people who were shielding from the virus and offered free food to the Bucks Goat Centre.

In a Facebook statement shared on the Fruity Tooty page, Destini Smith, daughter of the business owner released the following heartfelt statement condemning the business' potential eviction.

It read: "As many of you may know, my mum and dad's business: Fruity Tooty (the local greengrocers who have been providing to Aylesbury for around 40 years) moved into a warehouse unit on Vale Retail Park around a year ago.

"Their dedication and hard work mixed with the support of our customers has meant that this has become a great success for the business. Until recently, when the conservative council decided we weren’t worth it.

"My parents have put their blood, sweat and tears into this. My dad starts his day at 10:30pm every night to go to the market to get fresh products and goes through hundreds of boxes for the best stuff. He barely gets any sleep but he works so damn hard to provide for his community.

"He is sometimes exhausted, his body aches but he still gets up and provides. He has given up a lot for this business and he doesn’t deserve what they did to him.

"Next is my mum. She is incredible. She gets up at 3/4am everyday, starts work and doesn’t stop until 7/8pm at night. When I was a child I remember waking up and seeing my mum downstairs working while everyone else (apart from my dad) was asleep.

"She never complained and never stopped especially when the going got tough. She fights and she is magnificent. My mum got very unwell a few years back and it was terrifying. Yet she fought and won. My dad who still worked the same hours looked after her. Made sure she was okay before slaving away for hours and to repeat it again the next day.

"Not only my parents but my brothers and sister too. I’ve seen the frustration and dedication they’ve put into our livelihood for someone else to tell us we aren’t worth it. The ones who are meant to care after local business should be disappointed in themselves and disgusted in how they’ve choose money over the locals.

"I hope you think about your decision and how it affects people. Attempting to destroy a family business because you can get more money. I thought people were better than that, especially people in power. We may be smaller but we are a family who loves big and supports anyone."