Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Business Sick as a Parrot after Threat; Shop Funded by Council May Have to Move

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Business Sick as a Parrot after Threat; Shop Funded by Council May Have to Move

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Black

APOPULAR pet store which expanded into bigger premises with help from a multi-million pound regeneration programme is at risk of being forced out by a council which supported its move.

Animal Tracks created several new jobs, doubled its floorspace and increased sales by relocating from a garden centre to a much bigger unit on the North Seaton industrial estate in Ashington 18 months ago.

The move was aided by thousands of pounds in funding from the Go Wansbeck agency, which manages a pounds 16m, Government-backed drive to create and develop new businesses in the former mining area. Go Wansbeck's funding is administered by Northumberland County Council, which is a key partner in the enterprise drive and has also supplied a business coach to help Animal Tracks develop and grow.

But now the store is threatened with having to quit its new home or close down - after the council's planning department ruled it should not have been allowed to move there in the first place.

County Hall officials say the business is operating unlawfully, as it never sought approval to change the use of the Waterside Court unit from industrial to retail.

Next week county councillors will be recommended by officers to refuse a retrospective application for planning consent, which would force Animal Tracks to move to another new base or go under. The store, which sells rare and unusual pets as well as supplies and accessories, is run by partners Jason Seymour and Helen Edwards.

Yesterday Jason said: "The whole thing is an absolute joke and simply ridiculous. We got pounds 30,000 in funding from Go Wansbeck and the council when we moved last year. They knew exactly where we were moving to and what the money was being spent on.

"I have had letters from the county council supporting our move and the business, and now it appears they are trying to shut us down. …

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