East side businesses failed in rate reduction bid

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BUSINESS owners in Whitby failed in a bid to get a reduction in their rates on the grounds that they lost trade last season due to frequent closures of the town’s swing bridge.

An aging structure, the bridge nevertheless provides a vital link between the east and west sides of the town.

But it is subject to frequent breakdowns and last year it was closed for ten days in July at the height of the holiday season and again in November.

As a result, members of the East Side Traders Association claimed they should be given a reduction in their business rates.

Elaine Rhodes, Scarborough Borough Council’s local taxation manager said: “Businesses had to apply directly to the Valuations Office Agency, which assesses the rateable value of properties.

“Following these applications, the VOA subsequently determined that the disruption experienced was too transient, that is, that it was not of a significant duration to affect rental levels in the area.

“On a separate note, council representatives have attended some meetings of the East Side Traders Association, to try to ensure that the traders were receiving any other reductions that they may be entitled to, for example, small business rate relief.”

Sue Rae, licensee of The Fleece and of the Black Horse Inn in Whitby, said: “It affected all of us and we lost thousands of pounds.

“People wouldn’t queue for the buses the council put on to take them round by the other bridge.

“The boatmen charged them a pound a head to row them across the river and the people who did that then had less spending money when they got over here.

“The council should close the bridge down for one or two days every year in the winter for regular maintenance.

“Due to its age it’s bound to go wrong from time to time and so the council should be doing far more regular maintenance and not wait for it to break down.

“It hardly seems fair that we should have to go on paying the full rates to the council when the problem of the bridge is something they should be dealing with on a regular basis.”

Sophie McHugh-Budd at The Shepherd’s Purse in Church Street, said: “We probably lost about a thousand pounds in business over it in the summer although we picked up a bit when the boats started bringing people across.

“Then again in November we had guests staying who came to do some Christmas shopping and they were put out by it. It should be regularly maintained.”