A HAIRDRESSER is furious after the service charge at his town centre salon shot up by 100 per cent.

Stephen Szoboszlai, of Stephen Russel (correct) hairdressers in Newton Aycliffe, has seen the charge for general maintenance at the retail unit increase from about £400 to £800 per quarter.

The salon is located at Aycliffe Shopping Centre, which is privately owned by property managers Freshwater, and it is believed several businesses on Beveridge Walkway have been affected by the price hike.

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Mr Szoboszlai, who has run the salon for 30 years, said he had struggled to gain an explanation for the increase but had been told it was in order for specific maintenance work to be carried out quickly.

He said it was unfair for the onus to lie on the tenants and said the town centre management team should have spread the cost.

“They can’t expect us to bear the brunt of a 100 per cent increase because they want to work done quickly,” he said.

“It is ridiculous at a time when all businesses are struggling. “They say it will go back down but the fluctuation does not sit right with me.

“What will happen if they want more work doing in the future? Are they going to hold us to ransom every time?”

Mr Szoboszlai said the increase and the lack of explanation had moved one business owner to tears.

“She can struggle to understand English and no-one has taken the time to explain it to her properly,” he said. “She has had to come to me to find out what is going on and it’s just not right.”

It comes as work begins on a long-awaited £2m refurbishment of the town centre.

Improvements will include the removal of the unsightly concrete ramp linking Upper and Lower Beveridge Way, along with the ramp linking Upper Beveridge Way to the car park and the spiral staircase.

Bryan Haldane, town centre manager, said he was unable to comment on the service charge rise.

However, it is understood a meeting will take between the management team and the unhappy tenants in March.