Two stall traders claimed they were “totally victimised” after being told their shopping centre contract would not be renewed.
Russell Brown, 55, and Maxine Greaves, 58, were told they must leave the Promenade Shopping Centre by the end of August because the venue’s landlord was unhappy with their stall’s presentation.
Maxine said: “They have no consideration for small, local businesses. Our customers come from all over the place to buy from us.
“All I want to say to them is that we are not leaving by choice. We have not folded and we have not been made bankrupt. We have been made to leave.”
In an email from Forum Centre Space - the agency in charge of shopping centre promotions, Maxine and Russell were told they must leave because they could not reach an agreement with the firm on how to improve the look of their “Retail Merchandising Unit.”
It said: “For many months both Forum Centre Space and the Centre Manager have tried to help you to improve the presentation of your business to comply with the Landlord’s requirements and there has been much compromise in relation to the timescales to afford you every opportunity to improve your unit’s appearance.”
But Maxine claims that “constant changing of goal posts” left her and Russell unclear on how to practically improve their stalls’ appearance.
“In January we wanted to revamp our stalls, but we were told not to because they wanted to move us up against a wall - they wanted Victorian and ‘seasidey’.
“We drew up plans for that and got a joiner all organised, but when Burger King opened in May we were told that’s not happening. We were told to stay in the middle and that’s when all the arguments started.
“The agency said discussions had started with us in 2014 but to be honest, we’ve only had problems since the beginning of June this year. In the letter it makes it sound like it’s been going on for a year.”
But Maria Kamper, the shopping centre’s manager, disputed Maxine and Russell’s claims and said discussions had been ongoing for longer than Maxine claimed.
She said: “Last year, more than four million people visited the centre and we are on track to exceed this in 2015, with new stores introduced over the last 12 months. We are fully committed to upholding the high standards that those visitors to the centre expect.
“Unfortunately, Hat Attack were in breach of their operating licence and Forum Centre Space, the company responsible for commissioning them, has therefore terminated their licence. Whilst it’s regrettable that this is the case, it’s important that all stores and stalls within the centre uphold consistent standards across the board.”
Another trader who worked in the Promenade Shopping Centre who sold mobile phone accessories and services also confirmed his contract would not be renewed.
Now Maxine and Russell say they fear for their own vitality because they believe they are unlikely to find employment elsewhere.
Maxine added: “At our age, you can’t expect to find a job anywhere. You make an excellent application online but they take one look at your age and throw it in the bin. We just feel totally victimised.
“We had a lucrative little business, run by local people, and they’ve closed us down. Businesses don’t last two minutes in Bridlington.
“They open and they close - the town is full of charity shops and people who try to make a go at it aren’t successful.”
The couple continue to run their business from car boot sales and other events.