Traders join forces on rates

Chambers of trade across Northumberland are joining forces to tackle concerns over business rates.

Alnwick Chamber of Trade (Act) has teamed up with Hexham, Morpeth and Berwick’s groups to look at getting the best value for money for their business rates and to find out what services are actually being provided.

Act chairman Carlo Biagioni, who run’s Carlo’s fish and chip shop in Alnwick, said: “What services do we get for the money that we pay?

“Business rates go to the Government and then they give money back to Northumberland County Council and add another 20 tp 30 per cent on top, but where does it go?

“I know they are sweeping the streets and changing the lightbulbs in Alnwick but really we need to be asking questions.

“We need to find out what exactly it is we are getting for all this money that we pay.

“For householders, the council tax goes to the police and the fire service and I am sure a percentage of the business rates must do so as well.

“But it seems that we are paying an awful lot of money for not very much.”

Mr Biagioni added that businesses have to pay extra for services such as waste collection, whereas for householders this is included in the council tax bill.

He added: “My business has to pay an extra £2,600 for waste to be collected each year, on top of the business rates charge.

“It isn’t just us either, everywhere will be the same.

“I know the council will say they need the money because Northumberland is a rural county.

“But I am not happy and I think that the services we get are ridiculous for the amount we are paying.”

And he added that while streets are cleaned, the town council and Act arrange spring cleans, as volunteers, to tidy up the town prior to the peak tourist season.

Business rates are set by the Government based on the rateable value of a property and collected and calculated by Northumberland County Council.

A council spokesman said: “Business rates form part of the council’s overall income and are combined with council tax and government grants to provide all council services including education, fire and rescue, highways, housing and adult social care. ”