Rent ‘greed’ leaves South Woodford coach base empty
The owner of a South Woodford coach company which moved because of a council rent increase wants to know why its former base has lain dormant.
Dan’s Luxury Travel had to vacate its home since 1982, next to Charlie Brown’s Roundabout in Chigwell Road, after being taken to court by Redbridge Council in 2009. Managing director Dan Brown, 61, of Nazeing, Essex, was unwilling to accept the annual rent to the council more than trebling from �15,000 to �46,000.
The half-acre site has remained vacant ever since.
He said: “They were wrong in what they did. They could have held on and carried on with a new lease. They got greedy.
Mr Brown said his company, which now bases its coaches in Roding Lane South, Redbridge, was offered a “stupid” one-year lease with six months notice on the Chigwell Road site.
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Drivers must commute from a head office in Maybank Road, South Woodford, where they collect their keys, to pick up one of 24 coaches or minibuses.
It adds 40 minutes to their working day in travel time between the two sites, according to Mr Brown.
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He said the company also lost contracts for 29 daily school runs with the council and neighbouring boroughs last year as a result of local authority cut-backs.
Its fleet has more than halved from 50 vehicles three years ago. He said: “The first couple of years [after moving] were very hard.”
A council spokesman said another party was negotiating for the lease in 2009 and made a better offer than Mr Brown but did not then complete the lease.
He added that the council has not accrued extra security or maintenance costs or rates liability on the site since it was vacated.
He said: “The vacant lot has been actively marketed.
“Negotiations are in hand with a prospective new tenant for the site.”