Bury St Edmunds businessman says it is time for a change over shop rates

Pictured: Mark Cordell, chief executive of OurBuryStEdmunds
Pictured: Mark Cordell, chief executive of OurBuryStEdmunds

A Bury St Edmunds businessman has called for a major overhaul in how business rates are assessed - saying there needs to be a ‘level playing field’ between the high street and online retail.

Last week’s budget appears to have done little to assuage anger over the new valuations on business premises.

This has been carried out two years behind schedule and in some cases has penalised small businesses.

The system uses the rateable value of premises to determine business rates.

Ian Dalrymple, who runs Intersport in Whiting Street, has been lobbying since 2008 and even written to former Prime Minister David Cameron and former Chancellor George Osborne calling for an end to the situation.

He says it is wrong that large multiples and online retail organisations pay less than the small businessman.

“The business rate system has been around since Elizabethan times and the fact of the matter is that the money collected from business rates has already been spent.

“With multi-channel shopping the high street is unable to compete with these large retailers.

“What I am lobbying for is for the Government to even the playing field.

“There is also the environmental impact of these vans delivering all these packages through internet shopping.

“The business rates are set under an antiquated tax system and we have had years to address it.”

Ian, who has run Intersport for the last 12 years, says that online retail has led to a ‘total change’ in the footfall through the town.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond has said that smaller businesses with valuations under £12,000 (£15,000 from April) will not be charged.

A £300 million fund has been put aside for local councils to offer discretionary relief and by 2020 it is expected that local government will keep all of its business rates. Currently it keep 50 per cent of business rates but district councils receive only a portion.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of OurBuryStEdmunds, the town’s business organisation, said: “Although the new business evaluation doesn’t appear to be overly detrimental for businesses in Bury this is partly due to the large increases we suffered in 2012.

“I am incredulous that some of the larger online retailers can be paying less business rates per square metre than those of our businesses in town. I welcome the Government’s commitment to reviewing the current archaic system. Bury is, however, still a very vibrant town centre.”