Level playing field promised on Southport business rates

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Clubs and bars will have a ‘level playing field’ on Business Rates in future after an intervention by a Southport local councilllor.

Councillor Tony Dawson contacted Sefton Council after a local trader showed him evidence that many bars, clubs and restaurants in the town were subsidising others in the town which for years have been paying business rates at a far lower level due to being classified as a shop or office.

In some cases, this has meant a similar-sized business has been paying less than half the rates paid by their competitor only a few metres away on the same street. The reason is that neither the proprietor nor the council re-evaluated the rates when the new business opened up in a converted shop premise – or ever since. Shops pay far lower business rates than do bars, clubs and restaurants.

Now the Council has assured Councillor Dawson that action will be taken to stop this from happening again. The licensing department will keep the rating department informed when new businesses open. Cllr Dawson has received a letter from the Council saying:

“Our Licensing team does not routinely supply our Business Rates team with details of new licensed premises at present. However, as a result of your representations we have asked them to supply the Business Rates team with a full list of licensed premises in Sefton so it can be cross checked with the rating list. In future any new or alterations to existing licenses will be automatically sent to the Business Rates team so we can flag immediately with Valuation Office Agency.”

Councillor Dawson, who represents Southport town centre and part of Birkdale, says:

“The present business rate system is an utter nonsense and ALL businesses need a review right now to lower their payments to reflect current rent levels and the level of trade. But it is wrong that some businesses have been subsidising each other by massive amounts. We are talking about thousands of pounds difference each year which is no laughing matter.”


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