6th Jul, 2020

Rubicon firms left to find new homes after council gives them the boot

Harry Leach 15th Nov, 2019

A FURIOUS business owner is threatening legal action against Redditch Borough Council after it voted to terminate its lease of the Rubicon Business Centre.

Simon Mawdsley, managing director of SDM Print, hit out after Monday night’s executive meeting when council chiefs voted to end their association with the money-losing Lakeside centre.

SDM Print is among some 20 other businesses left scrambling to find a new home after hearing they would be given ‘at least three months’ to move.

“We have been here for 18 years and while we don’t make a huge amount of money, we are always left with a profit after paying the council rent,” said Mr Mawdsley.

“The cost of leaving will be astronomical because you have to consider moving machinery, finding a new place, doing it up, setting up the electricity and so on.

“I can’t see many businesses surviving the move. I expect 40 or 50 per cent of them to close down.”

Council chiefs discussed increasing the rent to keep Rubicon open, an option Mr Mawdsley said he would be in favour of, but the controlling Conservatives voted against it.

Labour leader Bill Hartnett (Church Hill) said: “Increasing the rent to make the Rubicon Centre viable was by far our favoured choice as it was Labour who set up the business centres in the first place.

“We don’t want to see Rubicon close.”

German chemical giant BASF looks set to take over the lease, using the site for storage.

Daron Lee, partner of Machine Design and Control at Rubicon, said: “For months we’ve heard whispers that BASF will be taking over.

“What shocked me was the formality of the meeting. It felt like the decision would have been pushed through much sooner had Labour not questioned it.”

Simon Hayes, of RMT Motorcycle Training at the centre, said: “So far the council has provided us with nothing in writing – we don’t even know how to appeal.

“If we can’t find the right location our business will just disappear.”

Redditch Borough Council needs to find £1.2million in savings in the next financial year.

Leader Coun Matt Dormer (Con, West) said they remain committed to supporting local businesses.

“The business centres are there for start-up businesses, however some of them have stayed for ten years or more which is hardly ‘start up’.

“This is a hard conversation for us to have but we will help them in any way we can.”

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