A YOUNG entrepreneur with a growing business says he may leave Havant because of crippling business rates.
Darren Waters’ hot tub repair firm Spa Fix is going from strength to strength and employs 10 local people.
But he says business rates of almost £10,000 a year are forcing him to consider relocating.
The amount he pays is based on a calculation by the government’s Valuation Office that the annual rent on his 3,000 sq ft unit in Larchwood Business Park, Havant, should be £22,500.
In fact the rent is £15,000 and his business rate works out at £82 per 10.7 sq ft. A warehouse less than a mile away in Havant but seven times the size pays only £17 per sq ft.
Mr Waters said: ‘This unit was empty for a quite a while before I moved in and I thought the business rate would be around 40 per cent of the rent, which is normally the case but not what happened here.
‘Businesses are suffering because of this and all you have to do is look at places like Greywell Precinct, in Leigh Park, and the Meridian Centre in Havant.
‘There are units all around the area which are half full.
‘We need to be encouraging more businesses in, give them a chance to grow and help drive the country forward.
‘Obviously if I’m thinking about moving out of the area then other businesses are too.’
Although Havant Borough Council collects the business rates on behalf of the government the rentable values of properties are set nationally.
Councillor Mike Fairhurst, responsible for business at the council, said he would like to see Havant businesses given the sort of breaks available in Enterprise Zones in the north, Midlands and Wales.
He said: ‘Small, expanding, firms like this are vital to the future prosperity of the borough.
‘We want the well-paid jobs they provide going to people in the borough.’
David Willetts, MP for Havant, has vowed to see what he can do about the rates.
He said: ‘It does seem as if Mr Waters is paying a very high rate and it is something that I’m going to raise with the Valuations Office.
‘One of the things that the coalition is going to look at to bring business back to local areas is giving local authorities more scope to start lowering business rates.’
Mr Waters is appealing his rates with the Valuation Office and should hear back later this month.