Fears for Rasen’s Undies shop over £4k business rates dispute

Bridget Pitman Brand EMN-160809-121151001
Bridget Pitman Brand EMN-160809-121151001

A ‘fed up’ Market Rasen trader fears she will be forced to close one of her town centre shops due to a business rates rule that would cost her more than £4,000.

Bridget Pitman Brand owns the well-established Market Rasen Pet Centre as well as Undies and Overs, which opened in February last year.

Up until now Bridget has qualified for free business rates on her pet shop and a low monthly rate of £32 on the underwear store.

But from next year she will no longer be entitled to the low rate at Undies and Overs - and will have to pay full rates on both shops.

If Bridget closes Undies and Overs, which she fears may happen, her free rates at the Pet Centre will be reinstated.

Bridget said: “I’m just fed up, depressed and tired of trying to fight this.

“I opened this shop on the basis that this was what Rasen needed - based on the Mr Big [Market Rasen Business Improvement Group] surveys.”

Bridget has until the end of this month, when she has to give notice to her landlord, to make a final decision on Undies and Overs.

And she said that if nothing changes, the shop will close in November.

She said: “If it’s [Undies and Overs] left empty they’ll [the council] get no business rates at all.”

West Lindsey District Council leader Jeff Summers said: “The small business rates legislation is quite specific and there is no discretion for the local authorities to change this.

“The businesses in question have received support, however, West Lindsey District Council is always open to talk to businesses and offer advice where we can.

“I would encourage anyone who is concerned to talk to our economic development team to discuss options available.”

A customer can have small business rates if they occupy only one property in the whole of England as long as the rateable value is under £12,000.

If a customer takes on a second property, criteria apply. They can in most cases retain the small business rate relief on their first property for a period of 12 months.

The scheme is a national scheme and is legislative without any discretion for the local authority.

Traders have also been able to access retail relief for a period of two years in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016.

For the year 2014/2015 this was up to £1,000.

And for the year 2015/2016 this figure was up to £1,500, available on each retail establishment.

The rate relief legislation and grants ended on March 31, 2016 as this was for a limited period only.