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Kayak instructors' 400 per cent rent rise
THEY have breathed new life into an ageing Hampshire lido that was struggling to attract visitors.
But the instructors say they are being forced out by a 400 per cent rent rise.
The hike has been imposed by businessman Hugo Ambrose, who has been running the pool in partnership with the town council for eight weeks.
Seahawk Kayaking moved in three years ago and spent £14,000 on new equipment as well as taking out a large amount of advertising, which raised the pool’s profile.
Supporters of Mr Ambrose say the instructors are currently getting a bargain. But Rob Taylor, one of the two men who run the business, is urging the council to block the fivefold increase.
He said: “We’ve put the pool back on the map.
“We taught 1,300 youngsters last year and that figure has increased significantly this year. All those people are safer out on the water because of the training we’ve given them.
‘Worthless’ “The council promised to protect us but Mr Ambrose has taken over half the area we used and also plans to increase our rent.
“The figure is due to rise from £100 a week to £500 a week later this month, when our current agreement runs out.
“We’ve put a lot of time, effort and money into turning this place around and now someone is trying to elbow us out.
“We want to know if the council is going to honour its word – or is its word worthless?”
Jacqui England, Lyming-ton’s county councillor and a former town mayor, added: “They’ve strived to build up their business and what’s happening now is diabolical. The rent rise is prohibitive.”
Mr Ambrose hit back, saying he was having to subsidise Seahawk Kayaking.
He added: “The increase sounds an awful lot of money but their current rent doesn’t even pay the business rate that I have to pay for their portion of the pool.”
Mr Ambrose also accused the group of failing to provide a year-round proposal for the site, which is open in the summer.
Town clerk Steve Cridland vowed to meet both parties in a bid to resolve the issue.
Mr Ambrose runs Lynx Sports Management, one of three businesses that contacted the council after it sought “expressions of interest” in the lido.
Councillors said a partnership deal with Lynx would enable the authority to benefit from the company’s expertise in running sports centres, but critics of the scheme accused the council of surrounding control of the facility.
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