A YOUNG businesswoman has been forced to close her children’s clothing shop after her business rates went up by £1,300 a month.
Millie, in the Buttermarket, Bury St Edmunds, is closing at the end of January after the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) increased her rates from £1,200 to £2,500 a month following a visit from an agency officer.
Shop owner Charlotte West, 23, said although the business, which opened in April, had plenty of customers, the rise in rates made it impossible for her to stay trading in the town.
She said: “My rates have gone up from £1,200 to £2,500 a month which just I cannot afford to pay.
“I can apply for a rate reduction but with solicitor’s fees and a rise in my other outgoings I cannot afford it. Everything is going up and I don’t have enough customers for what I am paying.
“If it wasn’t for the rates I could afford to stay – that is the main thing. It feels like a constant uphill struggle. If you try and talk to the Valuation Office they say talk to the borough council, if you talk to the council they say talk to the valuation office – I don’t know what to do.”
Ms West is hoping to reopen her store out of town.
Bid4Bury chief executive Mark Cordell said: “I think it is great we have got a young entrepreneur trying to run a business in the town and it is sad she is having to leave.
“On one hand you have the Government getting Mary Portas’ review of the high street, where she says rates are a key issue, and on the other hand another Government department increasing this person’s rates. To me it sounds ludicrous, I do not know how they have arrived at that decision. What benefit is it to anyone having an empty shop?”
A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council said it acted solely as a collector for business rates and had no power to set rates itself.
A spokesman for the VOA said it could not comment on individual cases.