Campaign for town business rate relief

A CAMPAIGN is being launched to help independent businesses in Weston and North Somerset.

North Somerset Council member Mike Bell has launched a Back Our Businesses campaign to get the authority to ease the business rate burden on local firms.

Under the Localism Act introduced by the Government, councils have the power to reduce rates paid by independent shops and ease the financial pressure on business owners.

Although the collected rates eventually go to the Government, Cllr Bell believes the council should take advantage of the Localism Act to support existing business-owners and encourage new ones into the town.

With the support of a number of independent businesses in Weston, he will now distribute a petition backing the campaign, which he then hopes to present to the council.


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He said: “I think it makes sense. When you go around town and talk to independent businesses about their problems, a lot of them say it is their business rates that are the biggest problem.

“It’s not just our main High Street which is affected and would benefit from reduced rates – there’s also Worle High Street, Whitecross and others, and I think a lot of these places need help.

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“We urgently need to get more varied and independent business into Weston and Worle and to support those already here.

“I want to see the council do more to support our local shops and businesses.”

Paul Batts, owner of Outdoors and Active, in Meadow Street, said: “This is an interesting one, as rates for small businesses are way too high locally.

“If the act allows local councils to reduce business rates it will help enormously for small businesses.

“I myself am suffering as a result of joining two shops together and being penalised heavily in terms of business rates.

“The rates locally are very high for some of the side-street businesses like ourselves.”

Nigel Cullum, of Weston Furniture Warehouse in Palmer Street, said: “I would support anything that would help to encourage more people to visit the Orchard/Meadow Street area.

“It would undoubtedly help by reducing the rates, but I don’t think that is the only thing.”

John Mayer, who runs TaxAssist Accountants in Drove Road, said: “Business rates are a sizeable proportion of small businesses expenditure and any initiative to relieve some of the burden on them is to be applauded.

“Currently businesses can get up to 100 per cent business rate relief dependent on their rateable value and this has been extended to March 31 2013.

“Whilst councils may seek to broaden reliefs and offer discounts under the proposed scheme, I am concerned that the current rate reliefs would cease.

“What small businesses really need is clarity to allow them to plan their budgets and immediate cessation of current reliefs should be discouraged, especially in the current climate.”

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