CARLISLE City Council has said it’s doing all it can to help shops get through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The council has responded after the boss of a chain store with a branch in Carlisle blamed sky high rents and rates for its impending closure.

Lakeland Leather, on English Street, has recently announced that it’s to close after negotiations for an extension of the lease reached an “impasse” with the landlord.

Managing director Martin Foster also said he will try and redeploy the six staff to other stores in the area.

In a statement to The Cumberland News this week, he said that “Property cost, both rents and rates, will also need reducing in the future" to give shops a chance.

Like many shops in the city centre, it has seen a slow down of business when it reopened in the summer after the lockdown.

A spokeswoman for Carlisle City Council said: “Although we are the local collection authority, we do not have any control over the amount of rates that is charged for a property.

“The charge is based on the rateable value given to the property set by the government’s Valuation Office Agency.

“However due to the Expand Retail Relief scheme no business rates are due in 2020-21.

“A 100 per cent rate relief applies, so there is no balance is to pay.”

Councillor Paul Nedved, portfolio holder for Economy, Enterprise and Housing, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has hit businesses hard and various schemes have been put in place by the government to protect jobs and keep businesses running.

“This has included a business rate relief scheme.

“We are doing all we can to support the high street and will soon be launching a new grants scheme.”

Mr Foster said: “Our lease expires in November, we’d like to renew but our landlord is seeking a higher rent than we feel is affordable in the current market conditions.

“We hope negotiations to renew will continue but are currently at an impasse.

“As such, unless matters change, the store will close in November.

“If this happens, we’ll do our best to redeploy the six team members to other local stores in Gretna and Keswick.

“Generally, we are seeing much reduced footfall in Carlisle since Covid-19 emerged.

“Property cost, both rents and rates, will also need reducing in the future.

“Not just for us, but for all shopkeepers.”

The Lakeland Leather shop appears on the website of Walton Goodland, a firm of chartered surveyors and commercial property consultants, with a rateable value of £57,500.

It states: “The property occupies a 100 per cent prime pitch in central Carlisle adjacent to all major national retailers.”

The shop is one of a number of closures in the city centre.

This includes high profile retailers like Bonmarche and Monsoon that closed their Carlisle shops earlier in the year.