Business rates reduced in Rugby’s High Street

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After years of countless complaints from Rugby businesses, taxes have been reduced for all shops in High Street.

Shopkeepers have long said that business rates in Rugby – which are paid instead of council tax – were far too high and crippled the local economy. The week the Government’s Valuation Office said rates would be reduced by ten per cent in Rugby’s High Street, saving businesses a total of £50,000.

Town centre management company Rugby First worked with Rugby MP Mark Pawsey and the Association of Town and City Management to lobby the Government, which sets business rates.

Andy Salter, of Salters in High Street, said: “I am absolutely delighted with the rate reduction. This is a significant saving which will make a real difference to my bottom line.”

The rate reduction will be backdated to April 1 2013 but will only affect High Street businesses, leaving shops elsewhere in town happy with the tax cut, but hopeful the policy could be extended.

Bev Thomas, of Etcetera fashion and gift shop in Regent Street, said: “I think it’s great news for High Street and think it’s great news for the town. Although the rates in Regent Street and the

rest of the Independent Quarter aren’t as high, we’d

obviously be thrilled if it could be extended.”

According to Rugby First, the Valuation Office recognised that a closure of ten shops in High Street was a “material change of circumstance” and agreed a reduction in rates.

Aftab Gaffar, managing director of Rugby First, said: “We will continue to lobby Government on business rates but welcome the decision by the Valuation Officer in relation to High Street.

“All town centres are finding it difficult at the moment but Rugby continues to do well in comparison to most town centres with vacancy rates around six per cent, well below the national average of 14 per cent.

“The rate reduction combined with other initiatives, including the award-winning ‘Moving in Grant’ package, window dressing of shops, events, hanging baskets and working with landlords on more realistic rents, has improved the visual appearance and appeal of the area and will help attract new businesses – we just need to be patient.

“We are already in talks with several interested businesses and the rate reduction will certainly have a positive impact on their decision making process.”

To find out more about Rugby First schemes, contact Aftab Gaffar on (01788) 569436 or email aftab@rugbyfirst.org