Shops seek rebate as repairs continue

PUBLISHED: 14:19 09 November 2006 | UPDATED: 09:58 31 May 2010

TRADERS whose businesses have been hit by the ongoing works on the Cross Street culvert could be granted a rebate on business rates. Liberal Democrats at Uttlesford District Council have asked council officers to assess the amount of trade that has been l

TRADERS whose businesses have been hit by the ongoing works on the Cross Street culvert could be granted a rebate on business rates.

Liberal Democrats at Uttlesford District Council have asked council officers to assess the amount of trade that has been lost, before considering approaching the Valuation Office in Chelmsford to request a rebate.

Cllr Stephen Jones said that he felt that if something could be done to help alleviate the financial losses being suffered by traders in the town, then action had to be taken.

"I was speaking with Cllr Richard Freeman, when we decided that we ought to be able to help recover the money lost by shopkeepers during the work on the culvert," he said.

"I have spoken to council officers about it and they are currently in the process of assessing the car park receipts in the town to see if there has been a downturn in car park use.

"If this shows that the trend of use has gone down, it will give substance to our argument and we will ask the Valuation Office what can be done."

One way that business owners would be able to prove that they are losing money is by showing that their income is significantly down on the same period last year.

George Street, which is partially closed to traffic, has been particularly affected by the work.

Owner of Suffolk Sports on George Street, John Attewell, revealed last month that his takings were about £1000 a week less than they were this time last year.

However, some businesses have not been open for long enough to demonstrate a loss of trade compared to last year, and car park receipts may be key to them receiving a rebate.

Sally Penn, who took over management of Bites a few months ago, was delighted by the news.

"If we could get a rebate on business rates, that would be superb," she said.

"Shoppers seem to avoid George Street now and stick to the Market Square area, so I've really suffered.

"Any kind of compensation would be a real bonus."

Parking enforcement manager at Uttlesford District Council, Les Scott, reassured shoppers that parking enforcement officers in the town were doing everything they could to minimise inconvenience to residents while ensuring that the roads remained safe during the culvert works.

A spokesman for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) said: "The VOA has a statutory duty to assess the rateable value of all non-domestic properties in England and Wales.

"For any material change of circumstances, for example a road closure, to affect a rateable value it must be shown that its severity and duration would lead to a reduction in rent.

"If a ratepayer wishes to discuss his or her rateable value, the first port of call is the VOA.

"Businesses in Saffron Walden should contact their local Valuation Office on 01245 541200.

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