Monday, 23 November 2009

Fighting high business rates in Narberth

An action plan to fight the 200%+ business rates hike in Narberth is beginning to take shape.

South Pembrokeshire AM Angela Burns has now met local government minister Brian Gibbons and been told that he is considering raising the rates threshold.

"However he was extremely adamant that there was no way they would postpone the rates review," she said.

"He made it clear that businesses have got until April to try to renegotiate their levels and then after that date they can appeal. But by then they should have paid the first instalment and I know that businesses are extremely worried about their cash flow while any appeals go through.

"I had a meeting last week with a business owner in the town who said he was going to close after Christmas because he cannot afford his enormous rate rise."

Two weeks ago Mrs Burns called a public meeting in the town at which the Valuation Agency Office (VAO), which set the rates, promised to review the situation.

A working party made up of representatives from different types of businesses from the town is now being set up by
Narberth Chamber of Trade. It aims to collect evidence to show that the increase is disproportionate to present to the VAO.

A petition for concerned traders to sign is being drawn up and it will then be sent to the Welsh Assembly’s petitions committee.

"Every petition is carefully considered by the committee so it is vital that we get the wording right as they only look into exactly what is petitioned for," added Mrs Burns.

“Now that I have had a chance to talk to Mr Gibbons we can ensure that we do.”

Pembrokeshire’s Conservative parliamentary candidate Simon Hart, who lives near Narberth, is also helping to collate the petition.

"In almost every shop you go into in town the traders are talking about the rates situation and I have heard of at least one that says it will close if the situation isn’t remedied," he said.

"Everyone is keen to work together to fight this increase."


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