A major charity has confirmed that it has no current plans to open a shop in Alnwick, following speculation that it was set to move into the town.
A spokesman for Barnardo’s, which helps vulnerable children and young people, told the Gazette yesterday that ‘as things stand’, it will not be coming to Alnwick.
However, rumours of a move have raised the emotive question of whether the town has too many charity shops already.
Charity stores in the town include the RSPCA, Cancer Research UK, Mind and Salvation Army. Coincidently, the town’s Oxfam store marked its 20th birthday on Monday.
David Taylor, vice-chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade, said that he wasn’t against charity shops, but was against too many in a town.
He said: “It is a tricky one, but I do believe that Alnwick has reached its maximum and I don’t believe we need any more.
“The issue is, charity shops receive statutory tax relief of 80 per cent, plus the local authorities can give them an additional 20 per cent rate relief, which means that they can operate completely without paying rates. There is an industry that has built up where companies approach charities to set up in towns. A lot of charity shops now seem to sell new goods, which really is not what they were originally about.”
Karen Scrimshaw, from Marilyn & Melrose, on Narrowgate, said she would like to see empty shops in Alnwick occupied by either independents or chains.
Alnwick Mayor Bill Grisdale said: “It is something that triggers people’s passion and I can understand people’s concerns, but I don’t think that we are as overrun as some other places.
“I think charity shops do have their place in a town centre. I think Alnwick has a fantastic range of shops, especially in the Castle Quarter.”