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SMITHFIELD TRADERS LOSE RENT BATTLE WITH CITY OF LONDON

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Smithfield meat market tenants who claim their rents are being upped to the point where the market - open since 't...
Smithfield meat market tenants who claim their rents are being upped to the point where the market - open since 'time immemorial' - faces closure, had their case thrown out of London's High Court.

Mr Justice Hidden said the traders' rents had been the subject of 'lengthy, intricate and and persistent negotiations' with the City whose stance could not be described as irrational or perverse.

There was no suggestion that the City was attemptin to close the market 'by stealth' or had any 'improper motive' in seeking to raise the tenants' rents. The tenants' claim that they could not afford to pay the new rents - said to be four or five times higher than what they currently pay - was not supported by any hard evidence, said the judge.

Consultation between the City and the Smithfield tenants had been 'full and complete' and the judge ruled: 'there is I conclude no question of the City having actedperversely in this case'. The City was under no obligation to 'subsidise' the tenants any more than it already did and was not obliged to run the market at a loss, said the judge.

He rejected claims that the rent hike would mean the inevitable end of the market - open since at least the 12th Century. The City had no choice but to expend large sums on bringing the market up to stringent EC hygiene standards and was entitled to recover some of the money from the tenants.

The judge also rejected claims that the the City was seeking to recover from tenants the cost of un-related commercial office development and the cost of maintaining Smithfield's listed buildings.

The Judicial Review application brought by Smithfield Tenants' Association Chairman, Mr John William Brewster OBE, was dismissed. And Mr Brewster was ordered to pay the City's legal costs of the action.

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