Last Tuesday I was told we have to have vacated 96 Chalton Street by 4 August even though we haven’t yet found a new place to go. I was under the misunderstanding that there would be some flexibility on a 3 month break-clause on a 12 year lease. Afterall, at every rent increase negotiation I was told that it was the flexibility of the break-clause that was partly responsible for all the hefty rent increases. In 2009 LB Camden Property Service proposed a 24% increase and told us Camden was not in recession. Perhaps Starbucks was still selling as much coffee but we certainly had seen a fall in nappy sales!
We think after all this time of trading at 96 Chalton Street an asset transfer or even the right to buy the shop would be fair. Over the last 11 years we have had our windows smashed, I have had to clean smashed eggs and crab apples off the windows, I’ve scrubbed dog poo off the pavement and even shifted ice that I considered dangerous from the pavement one Sunday. Some passers-by smiled and nodded their appreciation. One though asked me why I was bothering as it would melt soon. There was a freeze over night and fresh snow the next day.
Since 2003 Nappy Ever After has created paid jobs promoting washable nappies through a CRED Big Lottery grant. This money also helped us use an electric van and bikes for our delivery service, demonstrating that zero emissions delivery services even for something as bulky and heavy as used nappies was viable.
I haven’t got time to calculate how many people we’ve turned on to real nappies and early potty training – both of which significantly reduce the cost of nappy waste disposal. Neither have I time to calculate the value of volunteered hours.
It’s really sad to leave Chalton Street. We’d rather not but I just can’t justify paying LB Camden an increasing rent when there isn’t the money to pay someone to keep the shop open enough hours to ensure this eco social enterprise has a surplus at the end of the year to reinvest.
So much talk about supporting small businesses but no one at LB Camden seems to want to help us stay in Chalton Street.