Business owners have hit out at the price of rates in Alnwick after they were forced to move following a wall collapse.
Karen Scrimshaw of Marilyn and Melrose, and Margaret High, of Specially for You, moved from their Bow Alley base to Narrowgate last year after the street they were on was closed, because of concerns over the gable-end wall of Oscar’s Bar.
In October the wall came down, closing the wine bar for good and shutting off the alley for the foreseeable future.
Now Karen and Margaret are concerned that the cost of business rates will force them out of business.
Mrs Scrimshaw said: “We didn’t really have a choice in moving, it was either that or go bust.
“The business rates were set in 2008, before the recession, and the whole climate has dramatically altered since then.
“People are extremely money-conscious and, despite being on Narrowgate, we aren’t getting the footfall anymore.”
She added that Alnwick Castle and Garden having its own offering of gift shops and eateries, as well as its own car park, means that people who visit there will not venture into the town.
When Karen and Margaret moved into the Narrowgate premises they were given rent reductions by landlords Northumberland Estates, who also own Bow Alley.
Margaret said: “My licence here was due to finish at the end of January,
“They rang up to say it could be renewed and I am waiting to hear back, but the thing is that the business rates are horrendous.
“It is going to put me out of business.
And there don’t seem to be any exceptions for us.”
Alnwick Coun Gordon Castle said businesses affected by the road closure can contact him to look at getting a rebate on their business rates for the period they were shut.
Rates are set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).
A VOA spokesman said:“If the ratepayer thinks their rateable value does not reflect the rental value of the property they should contact us to discuss it.”