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The five, who were given notices to quit after querying the terms in proposed new leases, said they were stunned to be told by the centre partners that they had not bothered to read the letter setting out the dealers’ concerns before issuing the termination notices.

The dealers’ chief concerns in questioning the proposed changes in the leases were that they appeared neither to guarantee security of tenure nor that the centre would remain devoted to antiques.

They were also angry at an implication that their rents had not been raised in the past five years, when they had.

All five have been invited to set up at other centres, and some of them have already taken up the offers.