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Small firms are 'easy targets' says businessman caught up in London Paramount fiasco

PUBLISHED: 09:11 08 June 2016 | UPDATED: 09:57 08 June 2016

Several units have been left empty due to the uncertainty surrounding the proposed theme park

Several units have been left empty due to the uncertainty surrounding the proposed theme park

Archant

Delays over the London Paramount project are hitting local businesses hard

A small-business owner has slammed Dartford Council and the government over the uncertainty surrounding the London Paramount development, which is threatening to ruin his firm.

Stuart Pattle, who owns Pelican Fabrications on Northfleet Industrial Estate, claims he cannot find tenants for his properties due to the proposed theme park - and the council is now starting to charge business rates on the empty buildings.

“We have tried to get tenants,” he said. “We are losing money everywhere from rent and the rates.

“I can’t survive. I run a joinery company but I am struggling financially as it is.”

Last week, it was reported that plans for the giant theme park on the Swanscombe Peninsula had been postponed until 2017 pending further consultations.

For Mr Pattle and other firms in the area, the decision will prolong the uncertainty and potentially lead to further financial losses.

“We have just been taken to court by the rates department because of empty buildings,” he said.

“We have had to tell tenants that they need to start moving. I can’t rent them, because who will take them?

“The rates department are not interested. They just don’t care.”

Mr Pattle has been in the business for 30 years and has owned the three acres of land in question since 1977.

He was told that a compulsory purchase order may be made for his properties because the Paramount project is government funded, but no concrete details have yet been revealed.

“You can’t fight the government when you are a small businessman,” he said. “You can’t shout loud enough.

“I worked out I have paid about 24 million pounds in tax and what do I get for it? I just get screwed.

“It is all the government. They don’t care - we are easy targets.”

The uncertainty has also been affecting other businesses in the area.

Sabotcastle, a plastics remoulder, has been planning to invest £500,000 in new machinery but has had to put the decision on hold due to London Paramount.

Owner Peter Lethbridge said: “We can’t spend that cash for investment until we know where we stand with Paramount, because we may need it to help us relocate.”

Michael Bristow, who owns Michael’s Bridal Fabrics, added: “It is very difficult for eveyone on the estate if they want to sell a business or rent places out.”

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