VIDEO: Heritage Farm Nurseries set to close after 167% rent hike by Surrey Council

Sutton Guardian: Sam Pryor and Steven Billing - staff members who are being made redundant. Sam Pryor and Steven Billing - staff members who are being made redundant.

A successful family run business is on the brink of closure after Surrey County Council demanded a 167 per cent increase in its rent.

Heritage Farm Nurseries in Wallington, an animal centre which specialises in fish, has had to make its 20 staff redundant and the owners are having to leave their home of eight years.

A petition to save the business has got over 1600 signatures since the announcement was made last week. The owners have accused the council of bullying, greed and short-sightedness.

After investing over £400,000 in the business since it opened in 2004, owners Fiona and Jonathan Daniels were told in November they had 28 days to sign Surrey Council's new deal, which included a demand of one per cent of the company turnover, or to get out.

The Daniels' thought long and hard over Christmas but have decided they cannot afford to stay open.

Mrs Daniels, said: "Its heartbreaking. We have put everything we have into this and now we have to close. We have tried to negotiate but they have refused to listen. The whole community will lose out now because of the greed of Surrey County Council."

Every week the centre is visited by school children who go to look around the tropical centre, which as well as exotic fish includes terrapins and reptiles. Outside they can meet and learn about chipmunks, chickens, squirrels and even caiman.

Members of Carshalton Mums, which helped organise an emergency meeting yesterday have voiced their shock and anger at the news.

Sue Harley said: "I cannot understand why the council would want to destroy this small family run business which is providing such a valuable service to our community."

Natalie Mulcahy, said: "Heritage is a wonderful place for children, this is all very upsetting."

Another, Emma Fletcher, has written to Surrey Council to say: "Places like this are a Godsend. It is an excuse for so many people to leave their sometimes depressing four walls, to escape to. Should we not be encouraging places like this? Words really do fail me right now. Your behaviour is disgraceful."

Tom Brake MP for Carshalton and Wallington, said he was "very disappointed at what appeared to be a very hard line approach" taken by the council.

Tim Crowley, deputy leader of the opposition, said: "I'm very disappointed that this valuable business in the local community has felt the need to close due to pressure by Surrey County Council, also it means 20 people in my ward will be on the dole queue in a time of recession."

Yesterday (Sunday, January 13) over 100 people turned up at the nurseries to show their support for the campaign to keep the business open.

Surrey County Council are yet to comment.

Comments (7)

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6:38pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Snork says...

Nothing short of a disgrace :(
Nothing short of a disgrace :( Snork
  • Score: 0

8:23pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Michael Pantlin says...

Councillors biting the hands that feed them.
Councillors biting the hands that feed them. Michael Pantlin
  • Score: 0

11:48am Tue 15 Jan 13

Brianfromsutton says...

Why is this under Surrey County Council when it is in the London Borough of Sutton ?
Why is this under Surrey County Council when it is in the London Borough of Sutton ? Brianfromsutton
  • Score: 0

12:48pm Wed 16 Jan 13

David7 says...

It’s an anomaly from boundary changes, I believe – Sutton also owns some land within the Surrey CC area.
It’s an anomaly from boundary changes, I believe – Sutton also owns some land within the Surrey CC area. David7
  • Score: 0

4:40pm Wed 16 Jan 13

David7 says...

The deputy leader of Surrey CC appears to have either blatantly lied or been criminally uninformed on BBC Radio Surrey this morning.

He denied that rent negotiations were over – they were, and the Daniels have proof of this in writing. It is only in the light of the current media attention that Surrey CC have now offered to negotiate (albeit rather too late in the day).

The fact is that Surrey CC have tried to raise the rent (for the first time in over ten years) simply because of the results of the work and investment put in by the the tenants, which has made the property appear more commercially attractive (which is a bit of a red herring, but explains their actions).

Surrey CC are desperately trying to rewrite recent history now that their insensitive and greedy actions have been exposed in the media.

They probably thought that because the damage was being done outside Surrey (and in LB Sutton) that no electoral harm could come of it. How wrong they are.

Expect this to go further up the media chain to television and national media. I just hope that there isn’t too much harm done already to reverse the damage inflicted by an unthinking, uncaring, greedy council.
The deputy leader of Surrey CC appears to have either blatantly lied or been criminally uninformed on BBC Radio Surrey this morning. He denied that rent negotiations were over – they were, and the Daniels have proof of this in writing. It is only in the light of the current media attention that Surrey CC have now offered to negotiate (albeit rather too late in the day). The fact is that Surrey CC have tried to raise the rent (for the first time in over ten years) simply because of the results of the work and investment put in by the the tenants, which has made the property appear more commercially attractive (which is a bit of a red herring, but explains their actions). Surrey CC are desperately trying to rewrite recent history now that their insensitive and greedy actions have been exposed in the media. They probably thought that because the damage was being done outside Surrey (and in LB Sutton) that no electoral harm could come of it. How wrong they are. Expect this to go further up the media chain to television and national media. I just hope that there isn’t too much harm done already to reverse the damage inflicted by an unthinking, uncaring, greedy council. David7
  • Score: 0

6:11pm Wed 16 Jan 13

GreenBrown says...

Surrey County Council is run by the Conservatives. It doesn't seem to matter what banner they come under, they all seem to make such bad decisions. Lib Dems, Conservatives, Labour, all useless, all the same.
Surrey County Council is run by the Conservatives. It doesn't seem to matter what banner they come under, they all seem to make such bad decisions. Lib Dems, Conservatives, Labour, all useless, all the same. GreenBrown
  • Score: 0

11:53pm Wed 16 Jan 13

sfocata says...

Unbelievable. Just at the time when small businesses need support, a council does something like this. It's a great shame, as Heritage are probably the best aquarium shop in the area, but it would be unfair to treat any business like this.

I'd disagree with the previous comment... I think it does make a difference that it's the Tories. They're all pretty hopeless in different ways, but no one does venal, self-serving and exclusive like the Tories.
Unbelievable. Just at the time when small businesses need support, a council does something like this. It's a great shame, as Heritage are probably the best aquarium shop in the area, but it would be unfair to treat any business like this. I'd disagree with the previous comment... I think it does make a difference that it's the Tories. They're all pretty hopeless in different ways, but no one does venal, self-serving and exclusive like the Tories. sfocata
  • Score: 0

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