Margate Harbour Arm Grub Hub couple’s upset after being served notice to quit in dispute over new lease terms

Iston Burrell and Patricia O’Donaghue say they want Thanet council to resume negotiations

A couple running Caribbean food outlet, the Grub Hub, on Margate’s Harbour Arm since 2019 say they are not planning to move out despite Thanet council serving them notice to quit.

Iston Burrell and Patricia O’Donaghue had their tenancy terminated by Thanet council after negotiations over a new lease broke down but say they believe they are being unfairly targeted.

The Margate parents-of-three were told to be out of the unit by February 19 but say they have retained the keys and are requesting Thanet council comes back to the negotiating table.

In 2019 the couple signed an agreement as licensees of the unit with then-leaseholder of the Harbour Arm Graham Knight of Margate Harbour Arm Ltd to pay £420 per month inclusive of electricity and water. That agreement was detailed as running until February this year.

Thanet council took back control of the Harbour Arm in 2021 and has drawn up new lease agreements.

But Iston and Patricia say they are being asked to pay almost double in rent, at £8000 per year plus VAT, plus electricity costs dated back to initially 2022 but now to last year and are required to pay for works to install a toilet at the council-owned premises. There is also a service charge of 15% of the rent and parking for tenants has been removed between April and September.

Patricia said: “We have been in negotiations with the council since they took the Harbour Arm back in hand but they decided in December to give us notice to quit.

“We are an inclusive venue both for local people and welcoming in tourists and are the only Black owned business on the Harbour Arm.

“We do not want to leave our business as we have put a lot of time and energy into it.

“The council originally stated they would not be increasing rents but this doesn’t follow that statement and now they want us to pay to install a toilet in our unit.”

The couple, who are being supported by their regulars, say they just want Thanet council to agree reasonable lease terms.

Patricia said: “We have had four different individuals (from Thanet council) who have left in the middle of negotiations. The last one handed us notice to quit and has now left the business and we have not heard from the new contact.

“We have tried to do everything in the correct way but had notice to quit sent to us over the Christmas break.”

Patricia says they have lodged a complaint over the way the situation has been dealt with.

She added: “We feel discriminated against because we are inclusive for our clientele. We are not leaving.

“I have requested sight of the surveys conducted on the units on the Harbour Arm and details of the terms offered to the other businesses on the Harbour Arm under the Freedom of Information act.”

The council has been negotiating Heads of Terms for new leases since last June. Four versions have been drawn up over that time with some concessions on areas including longer lease terms and a discount on legal fees.

A council spokesperson said: “The management of the Harbour Arm in Margate reverted to Thanet District Council in February 2021. Since then, new leases have been negotiated with the businesses operating there.

“The council does not disclose the terms of individual leases which are commercially confidential.”

12 Comments

  1. “The council does not disclose the terms of individual leases which are commercially confidential.” The council might not, but us there anything stopping you discussing the terms, or are you legally not allowed to. Why not contact you M.P. he may, or may not be able to help,but just a thought. But in all fairness, this is typical of T.D.C. and their attitude to small businesses.

    • Paul – well said. Bear in mind, TDC and its councillors do not have a commercial brain cell between them!! Grab grab and hope. As an aside, just renewed my green bin fee for 24/25 and paid £68.25 for year. DAYLIGHT ROBBERY

  2. Why mention that you are the only ‘black owned business’.?
    You are a business – full stop.
    If another outfit claimed to be a ‘white owned business’ there would be hell to play with the woke police.
    Who cares?, you are a food outlet and should stand on that mantra alone. I wish you well with TDC and hope you achieve a sensible outcome.

  3. Pretty blatant playing of the race card with the “black owned” comment , are they suggesting racial prejudice plays a part in the council’s decisions. Don’t suppose it occurs to them that enrgy prices have gone through the roof, the councils commercial property department had descended into farce and that the lease is being revisited.

  4. This is a commercial space on prime sea front land. It’s not a scout hut. TDC has a responsibility to obtain the best value for its property assets. I’d hope there has been an independent valuation and terms negotiated on that basis, with some consideration given for the existing tenant /licensees conduct during their tenure. The idea of TDC insisting on toilet provision is an excellent one. The only decent public toilet in the area is in the Turner. The market will decide whether or not it’s a viable proposition.

  5. So they want to play the race and inclusivity card, are they claiming TDC are exclusionary and discriminate of racial grounds?
    £420 a month inclusive of electric and water is plainly economically unvaible from the councils position, ( they’d pretty much be losing money, as there’s no incentive for the leaseholder to manage its energy or water use).

  6. Why are TDC so stupid to make ludicrous increases in this inhospitable area where you are not going to get many people wanting to trade there. These people have built a reasonable business. There can’t be much in it for them but they have built a nice community feel in there. Does this count for nothing with the TDC pinheads. Play fair. Increase their rent if you must but not until their pips sqeak. They would rather it stays empty I guess

    • At the old rent as it includes electric and water , the council are renting it at a loss. It’s not for the council tax payer to be subsidising sucha business. That society has moved to its current position of endless legislation , endless clamouring for public services , everything has to pay its way , if the business can’t survive if it has to pay a sensible rent, cover it’s electric and water bill, provide basic amentities ( no food and drink establishment should be operating without toilet facilities) then its not a business and rather becomes a subsidised hobby.
      Go round the council owned trading estates and look at the number of units that are becoming vacant. The council needs to raise cash to cover the mess it allowed the commercial property department to create by not doing its job. Just another facet of the disaster TDC became under the previous senior management team and another area that needs putting on the right track if the councils finances are to be put back on track sufficiently to attract a new talented and experienced management team, currently no decent candidate would want the poison chalice TDC represents.
      The current administation would be better served by allowing all the bad news to be openly known rather than keep bleating about lack of central government funding. Any such full disclosure should include NDA’s and closed court / negotiated settlements that would reveal the true extent of whats been going on.
      The bill for the disposal of waste from the Dane Park depot will be just one of a large number of failings that have cost the council a fortune.

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