A BISHOP STORTFORD garage owner, who has been been given an eviction notice, has vowed he won’t leave without a fight.
Network Rail has informed Jamie Smither, 58, proprietor of Station Garage, that he will have to leave the business he set up 35 years ago because the land is needed for executive parking.
Jamie has said he wants to take Network Rail to court in order to keep his garage, adding: ’We’re under seige, the corporate bully has picked the wrong person to have a fight with.’
Jamie has until March 31 to appeal to court for a new tenancy, if not he faces eviction but he claims handing the land to Network Rail is not an option.
He said: ‘Station Garage serves local needs and provides local job opportunities, with long serving customers for as long as 20 years and over. Gaining trust and rapport with customers year after year are high priorities. Station Garage’s accessibility and affordability is unbeatable by the corporate run mechanics.’
A petition has been launched to save the garage and one of the many in support of the campaign is the Mayor of Bishop Stortford Colin Woodward. He said: ‘I will do what I can to help this local business which is a source for local employment, and a useful service. The garage has enhanced what used to be a derelict site.’
Jamie started Station Garage as an independent VW specialist in 1981. It is situated on London Road, running parallel to the train tracks. In1985 Jamie bought a strip of land next to the garage from the former British Rail, on a lease that renews every 10 years. The garage uses the section of land to obtain access to the garage and to park cars there.
A year and a half ago Jamie contacted Network Rail to renew the lease on the garage, but was not informed until June this year that the lease would be increasing by a massive 335 per cent. This would have meant his staff of nine working a total of 300 more hours in a year, to compensate.
He tried to negotiate with the rail company but at the end of September Network Rail announced that it was no longer prepared to renew the lease. Instead it wanted Station Garage to move completely from the area in order for plans to be made for executive parking. As a result, Jamie Smither was served with an eviction notice for the end of March.
Many of the students at Harlow College, studying mechanics, have been apprentices at the Garage and a number continue on to become fully trained technicians. Steve Milton senior tutor at the college said: ‘What is happening is crushing a small business and putting people’s livelihoods at stake.’
Network Rail failed to comment despite being informed that the Harrier would be running a story.