Plan launched to save Bolingbroke Books in Northcote Road, Battersea, as co-operative

Wandsworth Guardian: Gwen Rosen, David Gee, Michael Gibbs and Viv Taylor-Gee, in Bolinbroke Books Gwen Rosen, David Gee, Michael Gibbs and Viv Taylor-Gee, in Bolinbroke Books

A group of book-lovers are joining forces to keep a bookshop in their area.

Bolingbroke Books, in Northcote Road, Battersea, is shutting up shop after 31 years of trading.

Micheal Gibbs, owner, intends to close by the end of April as he cannot afford to pay escalating business rates.

But regulars are hoping to set up an alternative model in its place, which could work as a co-operative with voluntary staff.

Mr Gibbs, who opened the shop in 1982, said: "Business rates have gone up so astronomically from £4,500 to over £15,000 in three years.

"That has broken my back, the business rates have just about killed me.

"Kindle and Amazon haven't helped difficult times, we would expect the government to be more helpful in helping smaller businesses."

A public meeting is taking place next week to discuss the possibility of a community bookshop.

Mr Gibbs supports the move and would be involved, with hopes to hire a full time member of staff as well as volunteers.

Customer Viv Taylor-Gee, of Broomwood Road, Battersea, said the co-operative could stock French literature and children's books as well as mainstream titles to reflect the needs of the community.

Mrs Taylor-Gee, 66, said: "Shop keepers down the road are all clinging by their fingertips because of the business rates.

"I think the death of the book has been greatly exaggerated, books mean a lot to people. Some people can't imagine not having a book in their handbag.

"It needs to be a local bookshop, people need to be able to pop in and browse."

Bolingbroke Books is the second business in the area to close this year in Northcote Road, with the owners of Tony's Northcote Café also closing because of high business rates.

A spokeswoman for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) said: "VOA cannot comment on individual cases.

"If a ratepayer feels the rateable value is not a fair reflection of the rental value at April 2008, they can contact us to review it."

The meeting is taking place in Northcote Library, Northcote Road, on March 18 at 7pm.

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