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Council tells furniture store to make way for charity

AbbeyBathAn established furniture retailer has been told by its local council that it must leave its premises of 16 years to make way for a charity.

Abbey Furniture has rented its Walcot Street premises in Bath from Bath and North East Somerset Council since 1998 under a tenancy at will agreement, which gives both parties the right to end the tenancy at any time.

Despite this Terry Walker, Abbey Furniture co-owner says the council is treating the company unfairly and six people will lose their jobs now the council has told the company it must move.

'Technically they can kick us out whenever they want and we can leave whenever we want but we believe we've been here so long they can't just do that. We are an attraction on the street. People come to Walcot Street to see us,' he says.

The council wants to move the Genesis Trust charity to a permanent location as part of a wider development scheme.

'Over the years, the Genesis Trust has moved from place to place using tenancy at will contracts in order to provide its highly-valued services. The council understands that with a permanent location, the Genesis Trust would be able to provide an improved service and make it easier to apply for external sources of funding. The Walcot Street premises offer this opportunity.

'The position regarding the Abbey Furniture occupation of the building has been explained to them as far back as a year ago and they were formally written to in October 2013. It was made clear that the council would be investigating other uses for the premises. When any organisation or business takes on a tenancy at will, the rent reflects the tenuous nature of the occupation and the understanding that they could be requested to move at any time.'