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Circus can't afford' to roll up into town

PUBLISHED: 14:41 15 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:30 25 August 2010

A CIRCUS master said his show had been priced out of the borough, ending some 20 years of big top visits.

A CIRCUS master said his show had been priced out of the borough, ending some 20 years of big top visits.

Zippos Circus will not visit Bexley at its normal location in Sidcup Place again this year - having also missed out in 2008 - because Bexley council was asking for 'unrealistic' rent, according to its owner. In a letter to Bexley council, Martin Burton said councillors had failed residents by demanding £6,140 for a week's rent, when he suggested £2,500 would be a reasonable amount.

He wrote: "We know that people need cheering up in a recession, circus offers affordable family entertainment.

"Alas we fear that Bexley has overpriced itself and we cannot visit Sidcup this recessionary year."

Bexley council officers offered Mr Burton a £255 discount on his rent, but maintained that their prices were in line with other boroughs.

However the circus founder said sites such as Blackheath could only get away with such high rent because they attract more people.

He added: "Business for Zippos at a prime site like Blackheath makes a £6,000 or more rent viable, but not at Sidcup. The benchmarking exercise was unrealistic."

A spokesman for Bexley council said: "We are sorry that Zippos Circus have decided not to visit Sidcup Place for a second year running.

"Fees for circus site hire are applied fairly and consistently and are in line to similar venues in other London Boroughs. As a result of Mr Burton's concerns we intend to invite competitive tenders for circus visits during 2010. This will enable companies to compete with each other for the site and set the market value accordingly. Bexley residents who enjoy this form of entertainment will be able to see the Chinese State Circus in Danson Park later in the year.

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