Across English Channel, A Grouse On Rent


PARIS, Nov. 5 (UPI) — Antique dealers in a flea market in Paris said their landlord, who happens to be the 6th duke of Westminster, is gouging them on rent.

“Instead of respecting the poetry of the antiques trade, he came in with scissors; not a white knight but a man out to get us,” said Francois Bachelier, president of the Paul Bert dealer’s association, which is a prestigious flea market north of Paris that attracts 5 million visitors a year, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

“When (we) were told that an English lord passionate about antiques and who had cash wanted to buy the markets, we thought it was wonderful,” he said.

Now, however, the merchants say they are put out. In a message to Duke Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the merchant group said, “As a member of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, supposed to promote the spirit of chivalry, re-establish justice and protect the weak, ‘Monsieur le Duc’ treats his subjects very badly.”

A spokesman for the Duke’s Grosvenor Group said, “We’re trying to sort out a complex situation that we inherited. Yes there is a disagreement on charges as some people were paying more than they should and some people were paying less than they should. We’re trying to harmonize rents and charges.”

But he said charges the duke is gouging tenants and not reinvesting in the area are “ridiculous.”

“We’ve built six new stands, upgraded all the electrical and security systems. You’ve got to bear in mind that the place was almost falling down when we bought it,” he said.

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