Save our independents! High rates fears for stores in Aylesbury town centre

Rocky and Kook staff
Rocky and Kook staff

Independent shops are under threat because of ‘unfair’ business rates according to store owners.

Rocky and Kook opened in Temple Street at the start of the year, in a unit which had stood empty for five years.

Businesswomen Kay and Ruby Lewis have worked hard to make the store is a haven for all things vintage, and have seen customers flock in from near and further afield.

But businesses cost money to start up, and the pair say that this, and business rates which are higher than any other premises on the street have led them to consider the store’s future.

Kay said: “We’ve done a lot of research, and know that this business can succeed here.

“The independent shops are what are going to make Aylesbury a place that people want to come to, because we can never compete with Milton Keynes for the big names.

“It’s just disappointing that the rates are so high, that does not encourage independent businesses into the town, and the ones that do come will struggle.

“Our rates are £1,300 a month, our shop is paying more in rates than some of Aylesbury’s banks. Since we have opened I haven’t yet been able to draw a wage.”

She added: “We knew when we started that this shop is a very new idea for Aylesbury, and it is is going to be a slow burner, and we have had such positive feedback so far.

“But there doesn’t seem to be anything in place to help new businesses thrive.”

Councillor Steve Bowles, portfolio holder for economic delivery at Aylesbury Vale District Council promised this week that he would personally try and find a way to help Rocky and Kook.

He said: “We are doing all we can to encourage new businesses and we do look at the business rates and other incentives to encourage new businesses in.

“We are obviously trying to regenerate the town centre and we will look at this and see if there are any incentives that we can offer.”