Calls for Monmouthshire to lead campaign to abolish business rates and find a fairer system

By Saul Cooke-Black   |   BBC local democracy reporter   |
Wednesday 31st October 2018 9:31 am
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Councillor Bob Greenland ()

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A MOTION calling for an ‘outdated’ business rates system to be abolished has been passed by Monmouthshire council, despite claims it is “pie in the sky stuff.”

Outlining the motion from Cllr Mat Feakins (Conservative, Drybridge ward) at a full meeting of the council on Thursday, Cllr Bob Greenland called for a new system to be introduced which would help traders in the county and elsewhere.

The motion stated: “It cannot be right that the rateable values of retailers in Cardiff have shown almost 10 per cent average decreases whilst those in Monmouthshire have increased by more than 11 per cent; more than twice the level of any authority in Wales.

“This council calls on the Welsh Government, with its new taxation powers, to abolish the outdated business rates system and replace it with a system that is fair to all.”

Cllr Greenland (Conservative, Devauden) said increases in business rates have contributed to increased difficulties for traders which had led to the future of town centres being “in jeopardy.”

He said: “We need a national campaign and I think we in Monmouthshire should be heading that campaign to persuade the (Welsh) government to use their new powers of tax raising to find a fairer way of taxing businesses.”

But leader of the council’s Labour group, Dimitri Batrouni (St. Christophers), said the motion was “pie in the sky stuff.”

“It does not reflect the reality of what the Welsh Government is trying to do,” he said.

“It does want to support small businesses.

“That’s why the Welsh Government has introduced the street rates relief scheme and it gives £200m support to small businesses.”

And Cllr Kevin Williams (Labour, Llanwenarth Ultra) said the business rates system may need to be reviewed but that a “holistic approach” was needed to help town centre traders.

Cllr Jo Watkins (Liberal Democrats, Caldicot Castle) said she supported the motion as it formed part of one of her party’s “flagship policies.”

She said the Lib Dems proposed helping to support small to medium businesses by introducing a commercial land owner levy, taxing land owners instead of tenants, to replace the current system.

Summing up, Cllr Greenland said nobody expected the proposed change to be a “complete answer” to town centre problems but added that it could help traders.

Councillors voted to approve the motion.

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