Shopkeepers in a Devon town fear they could be forced out of business after a charitable trust decided to raise rents - in one case by 140%.
The Mayor of Dartmouth Richard Rendle described the decision by the Dartmouth Trust as ridiculous and insensitive.
He said many small retailers would have to leave and said the trust's attitude was "totally unacceptable".
But trust chairman Martin Hart said raising rents was the only way to increase income.
Speaking on BBC Radio Devon he said: "I hope that people are aware of the commitments we have and will appreciate what we are doing."
But Steve Fairclough, who run the Just Fancy gift shop, said he now faced a rent rise of 140% and this was "difficult to come to terms with".
If smaller retailers were forced out it could see national companies coming in to replace them and "change the profile of the town", he said.
Dartmouth Town Council has passed a resolution criticising the decision of the trust which is believed to own up to 40 properties in the town.