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Disrupted Oxford traders given rates relief
TRADERS are being given a discount on their business rates after months of disruption.
The businesses in St Clement’s Street, Oxford, will get a five per cent rate relief.
And it will be backdated a year to April 8, 2013, when the work to build student accommodation on the car park started.
A number of firms have complained that the construction has driven trade out of the area.
Earlier this month The Sobell Bookshop on The Plain said it was the first casualty of the huge reduction of spaces – 120 to just 23 at one point – and had no choice but to close.
The deputy leader of Oxford City Council Ed Turner has now said they will be given a discount on the rates.
Mr Turner said: “We have been advised that the valuation officer has agreed to recognise the loss of the car park spaces and reduce the rateable value of those shops in St Clement’s Street where he believes there has been an impact, by five per cent.
“These reductions will be effective from April 8, 2013 and will be a temporary reduction which will remain in place for the period of the works.”
He added that if businesses believe this is insufficient they can submit a formal proposal against the reduction but have to provide evidence for their claims.
Work on the development by Watkin Jones to build 140 student bedrooms above the car park is expected to finish in August.
Patrick Clacy, of And So To Bed in St Clement’s Street, said: “It obviously doesn’t make up for the fact that we have lost a huge amount of business because of this development and five per cent doesn’t really do an awful lot.
“Anything is welcome but when you add up what we have all lost as businesses in St Clement’s Street and the surrounding area it will be a lot of money.”
The Valuation Office Agency is the government body which values property for the purposes of council tax and business rates.
Business rates, which are charges to most non-domestic properties, are collected by the city council and then paid into a national pool to be redistributed.
Given the reduction is effective from a date in the past, VOA spokesman Andrew Bennett said shopkeepers could get a cheque for the amount they are owed or have the sum taken off future bills but this has to be decided between them and the city council.
He said he could not comment on individual cases because of confidentiality.
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