Owner of G-A-Y nightclubs says venues ‘under threat’ due to extreme cost rises

July 11, 2017
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LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: A red neon light illuminates a shop in Soho on November 29, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The future of G-A-Y is “under threat” due to extreme rent rises, its owner has said.

Jeremy Joseph, whose G-A-Y business has been running for more than two decades, says the company has been handed rent and rate rises totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The future of the company’s iconic London nightclubs is now in question due to the dramatic spike in costs, he says.

G-A-Y in Soho in central London.
G-A-Y Bar, Soho (Photo BY JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Speaking to BBC Radio London, the G-A-Y boss revealed that one of its central London venues, G-A-Y Late, has been told to pay an extra £400,000 rent a year.

He told Vanessa Feltz: “Rent is just ridiculous. G-A-Y Late, one of our venues, is up for rent review at the moment.

“We currently pay up to £300,000 rent a year. The landlord is trying to get it up to £700,000, so we’re in a rent review.

“A rent review alone costs thousands of pounds.

“It’s taken six months for us to get to a point of arbitration, and I only found out a couple of weeks ago that the arbitrator will now decide how much we have to pay.

“Once they decide how much, there will be no appeal whatsoever.

“Whatever that rent is – and it could be double – we have no say in it.”

Asked if the payments could put G-A-Y out of business, he told Feltz: “It’s completely under threat.

“We were sitting down yesterday trying to work out how are we going to pay for all of this.”

Mr Joseph also revealed that rate rises have increased by more than a third of a million pounds across London venues G-A-Y Heaven, G-A-Y Late and G-A-Y Bar.

“For G-A-Y, our rate increase that happened this year is now £390,000.

“The worst part of all of this is that you can review and take it to appeal which we have done.

“But what they’re not telling you is you have to pay it while waiting for it to go to appeal.

“And appeal will take up to two, three years. By then businesses who can’t afford it will be gone.”

Heaven, which is due to celebrate its 40th anniversary as a live venue in two years, has hosted some of the biggest stars in the world under the G-A-Y banner.

The Spice Girls did their first ever gig at the venue and Kylie Minogue has appeared 12 times, alongside the likes of Adele, Lady Gaga and Mariah Carey.

The revelation comes after a report found more than half of London’s LGBT venues have closed in a decade.

The 58% drop was rarely due to a lack of demand, according to the findings, but due to external pressures – such as large-scale developments and a lack of safeguarding in the planning system.

Jeremy Joseph claims landlords actively seek to oust business in a bid to replace them with new occupants at higher rents.

Rent reviews – such as the one facing G-A-Y Late – are done on average rents in an area, meaning landlords that force up rents and drive existing businesses out can quickly increase rents in a locality.

“You can’t keep upping door charges or drinks prices, because at the end of the day, for me, one of the things I’ve always tried to do is keep our door charges as low as possible,” he said.

“We try and keep our drinks prices low. So when I try and increase all of that then it goes against everything that G-A-Y is about.”

More: G-A-Y, Gay, heaven, LGBT, London, nightclub, Pride in London, Soho

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