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Couple's newspaper kiosk under threat at Benfleet station
10:20am Thursday 14th February 2013 in Local News
A COUPLE who have run a newspaper kiosk at Benfleet railway station for 16 years claim they are being forced out of business.
George Skelton, 62, and his wife Brenda, 58, of Queens Road, Benfleet, have run the kiosk by the entrance to the Southend-bound platform for 16 years. However, two weeks ago Mr Skelton claims two rail workers told him the business was finished and demanded he handed over his keys as well as a key to the toilets.
He then claims the locks were also changed to prevent him getting access.
The row with train operator c2c dates back to 2011 when the couple were told to close when another newsagent opened a kiosk on the opposite platform.
Mr Skelton, who is a familiar face around the station and is the main character in a collage featured on the London-bound platform, said: “It’s got ridiculous considering how long I have been there.
“I’d call it bullying tactics. It’s being done to give this other agent the trade I have built up for 16 years.
“It’s that institutional thing where no one takes responsibility and there doesn’t seem to be any fairness after all these years.
“Losing the stall massively affects the takings, I won’t be able to continue trading unless I subsidise it through some other form.”
The couple have run a second kiosk outside the station in Ferry Road for the last 26 years called George’s News, which is not underthreat.
A c2c spokesman said: “Mr Skelton is one of several tenants operating at Benfleet station and we have to treat all our tenants equally.
“Mr Skelton’s current agreement only entitles him to trade from his kiosk outside the station, and we are happy for that to continue.
“We have been working with Mr Skelton to resolve his wish to extend where he trades from, and would be happy to enter into discussions with him on this.”
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