A REGENERATION scheme aimed at breathing new life into the home of the North’s fishing industry could end up costing jobs, it was last night claimed.
Traders on the North Shields Fish Quay say hugely inflated rents at a £4.5m food park built by North Tyneside Council could force them to either close down or move their businesses out of the region.
Businesses operating from the quay, say rents at the new centre are more than triple what they are currently paying.
Paul Spivey, 50, runs Spivey's Shellfish with his wife, Denise, and daughter, Michelle, but he said that his rent and rates, currently around £100 a week, will go up to £600 in the new centre.
Mr Spivey is one of a handful of crab processing businesses in the North-East and also supplies many local hotels and restaurants as well as Billingsgate Fish Market in London.
He said: “When the council came forward with the plan I was over the moon. But when I saw the new places and how much I’d be charged, I was devastated. They were nothing like what the council told us. They have two floors with a lift. I can tell you, lift-shafts and water do not go together.
“The whole family relies on the business. It’s all I’ve done since I was a kid.
“We all agree that the regeneration scheme is a good thing. But fishing is the heritage of the Fish Quay and now we’re about to get shoved up the hill.”
John Burwood, 42, who co-owns Nielsens Fisheries , currently pays the council £12,900 a year in rent and rates for three units in the Clifford Fort area of the quay.
But that will go up to £22,463 for two units in the new centre – with even that a discount on the £42,200 market rent for five years in return for Mr Burwood paying £100,000 to fit out the units.
Mr Burwood said: “The council said the rents weren’t going to change. To put the rents up that much is absolutely disgusting. They are colossal.
“Sticking the price up by that much won’t create jobs. My only option is to move somewhere else like Grimsby, which means my lads will lose their jobs.
“They go on about regeneration of the Fish Quay and I haven’t seen one job created.”
Nielsens Fisheries has supply contracts with Tesco and Morrisons, as well as many local restaurants and shops. It employs 24 workers, which would double should it sign a proposed £5m contract with Cumbrian Seafoods.
Mr Burwood said: “My family have been in the fishing industry for over a hundred years. My dad was in the industry and so was my grandad and great grandad – this is going to come to an end. These boats can bring in as many fish as they want but if there’s no-one to process it, what are they going to do?”
A North Tyneside Council spokesman said: “The new units are let for market rates and are for general food processing use but clearly this would include potential use by existing fish processors in the Fish Quay. The maximum rent on the largest unit is £22,100.”