SMALL business owners have blasted Basepoint Business Centre for raising their rent by 26 per cent.

David Parkinson of Aspire Tuition was shocked when he first learned of the sharp rise a few weeks ago and fears that paying hundreds of pounds more a year could cripple his livelihood.

He states in a letter of complaint written to Basepoint that his rent was set to increase by 25.99 per cent, though because he signed up before the end of January, he got a discount.

Even after the discount, he still faced a rent increase of 20.05 per cent, which he called unfair.

He also noted that Basepoint have doubled the deposit they hold on the units without explanation.

David is one of more than 100 businesses on the business park which, he claimed, will all be affected by the rise once their rental agreement comes up for renewal.

He said: “Why they would want to punish small businesses by doing this is beyond me.

“Basepoint are entitled to try to maximise profits but they must also respect and be considerate of their customers.

“Their justification for this increase is that they have reappraised the market and they believe their units are worth more than previously thought.

“Why not do this over a few years rather than whacking it up this much in one go?

“Is this just another attempt to skim money off the bottom so the ones on the top can give themselves more money?”

Basepoint Business Centre was approached for a response to these claims but declined to comment.

David added: “I will be able to survive, just about, but there will be other businesses here who won’t be able to cope.”

Ruby Lou’s Tattoos is one of those businesses.

Owner Tarren Malham has been part of the park, in West Swindon, for six-and-a-half years but fears that the latest increase in her rent will force her to set up shop elsewhere.

She said: “The rent rises have been manageable in the past but this is an outrageous jump.

“I don’t think anyone is going to be happy with this.

“Small businesses like mine are going to suffer.

“They’re hell-bent on raising the rent but won’t give us anything in return.

“There’s so much that still needs to be fixed, the security gate hasn’t worked for ages.

“It costs a lot to move premises but I’m not going to stay here.

“What scares me is that there’s nothing stopping them from raising the rent again in a year or two.”

David added: “It’s the unfairness that gets me. They shouldn’t be treating us like this.

“The last thing businesses want to do is put their prices up to cope with increases of this scale.

“We can’t pass this on to customers, not in the current climate, I don’t want to turn any students away, so we have to swallow the extra costs.”