Business rates are biggest issue facing our towns
A SHOP owner has warned that business rents and rates in Berwick’s struggling town centre are too high to be sustainable.
Julie Riley, who owns The Lime Shoe Company on Hide Hill, was speaking following the publication of new research which showed that business rates are the biggest issue facing towns and high streets across the country.
Commenting via the Berwick Advertiser’s facebook page, she said: “Rates as well as rents are far too much to make Berwick sustainable. Multiples won’t come but small unique businesses can’t afford to make the town centre attractive by taking empty units and expanding. Shops are run down and it’s just not attractive.”
Fellow poster Derek Davorn added: “We are all being squeezed dry.” Action for Market Towns (AMT) had surveyed 205 towns across the UK; 105 of which are members of the organisation and 100 not, and asked them to name the most pressing issues affecting their town or high street – and what the Government needs to do.
Business rates, high rents, car parking and competition from out of town retailers all featured highly, with rates scoring as the most pressing issue for a majority of respondents. And towns were vocal in calling for Government action to level the playing field for business rates between high street and online retail.
Other participants called for stronger action and enforcement of the “Town Centre First” policy.
Chris Wade, AMT’s chief executive, commented: “We have listened to towns across the country and the message is that if the Government is serious about saving the high street, it needs to review how business rate levels are set. This would play a part in levelling the playing field so that our towns can be competitive and find creative solutions to bounce back.”
AMT and several other organisations recently issued a briefing note to members of the House of Lords, expressing concern about the postponement of revaluation of business rates.
They said it would ‘unfairly penalise hundreds of thousands of businesses by requiring them to pay excessive levels of tax for an additional two years in order to subsidise those in more prosperous areas. This will harm businesses in regions and sectors of the economy that have underperformed relatively since 2008, and so will have a particularly devastating impact on struggling high streets.’
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Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North east