Ipswich: Struggling businesses told by council to take concerns to National Grid

COUNCIL chiefs have urged struggling businesses to take their compensation concerns to National Grid after traders spoke out over their business rates.

Business owners in Fore Street, Upper Orwell Street, Orwell Place and Eagle Street previously hoped the borough council would assist them in knocking down the cost of their yearly business rates.

A number of traders told The Ipswich Star that roadworks by National Grid, which were carried out across a seven month period, meant their takings were down by more than 50per cent and they were unable to afford the rates.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said the borough council had the opportunity to let the struggling businesses off the rates if they wanted.

But today, David Ellesmere, leader of the borough council, said there was no reason why town tax payers should foot the bill for unpaid business rates.

He said: “There was a revaluation of business rates for the area during the road works and that saw a reduction. The borough council always asked for businesses to contact with concerns about payments.

“I don’t think it would be fair for council tax payers to have to pay the unpaid rates because that is what would have to happen if the council let the businesses off those rates.

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“The government sets the rates and expects the money for them.

“I also think Ben Gummer should continue in his promise to help the businesses secure compensation rather than trying to get council tax payers involved.”

Mr Gummer said he was still pushing on the compensation issue.

He added: “I have been told that the businesses won’t get all the compensation by National Grid’s own admissions. The borough could and should help by making its own contribution too.”

A spokeswoman for borough council said: “Business rates were reduced by the valuation officer doing the period of the road works. We offered easy installments and an extension for payments.

“Ipswich Borough Council believes compensation should be paid by National Grid as the disruption was caused by them.”

A spokesman for National Grid said: “Any businesses that feel they have lost income due to disruption from National Grid’s work are eligible to apply for compensation from our small business compensation scheme.

“The scheme is regulated by government, with each application assessed on an individual basis.”

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich. or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

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