UK’s only gay bookshop hit by huge rent rise

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The UK’s only bookshop catering exclusively for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people has been hit by a 25 per cent rent increase.

The manager of London-based Gay’s The Word, Jim MacSweeney, said he was “appalled” by Camden council’s decision.

The shop, in Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury, was saved from closure in 2007 after a similar rise.

Celebrity supporters rallied round to raise the £20,000 needed to keep it in business.

Mr MacSweeney told the Camden New Journal yesterday: “We had a letter from Camden and they have given us a 25 per cent rent increase. I’m just appalled, given the current economic situation. Camden has no sense of reality. We’re pulling our hair out.”

He added: “I don’t know how much Camden spends on lesbian and gay groups and looking after older gay people, but we do more than that as a matter of course.

“We’ve always been more than a bookshop – it’s the whole community coming in.”

Other shops in the area, such as Meghrab Books, also say they will struggle with the new increases.

Deputy council leader Andrew Marshall told the newspaper: “It’s great that Gay’s The Word is there, but the problem is we deal with everyone evenly. I don’t think it can be right that just because Camden is your landlord you don’t have to pay commercial rents.”

A council spokeswoman added that businesses could appeal higher rents but the council had a duty to to let its commercial properties at market prices.

Gay’s The Word first opened its doors in 1979. A host of gay and lesbian authors have spoken about the unique place the bookseller has in the capital’s gay fabric.

When the store was saved three years ago, a number of celebrity supporters such as lesbian author Sarah Waters and actor Ian McKellen were given the honour of having bookshelves in their names.