‘No shops will be left unless there is a big rethink...’

Waterlooville town centre
Waterlooville town centre
Mutiny Festival brought over �2m to the local economy Picture: Paul Windsor

Mutiny Festival brings £2.7m into Portsmouth economy

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CAFE owner Helen Mandrupson says business rates are crippling our town centres – and has joined The News campaign for action.

The 45-year-old is at her wits’ end as she struggles every month to pay business rates on her Cafe Moka shop in Wellington Way, Waterlooville.

She fears her business and many others could close before 2017 when the government has said it will re-evaluate the rates.

Ms Mandrupson has thrown her support behind our campaign – which is backed by sister papers in Johnston Press – to lobby the government for changes in the way local firms are taxed in a bid to ensure high streets thrive.

Ms Mandrupson said: ‘Our business rates are extortionate.

‘I don’t really get anything for them. There’s nothing here. There’s only three of us still here.’

She pays £581 a month on business rates, but said a more affordable figure would be £350 or much less.

‘Everything I take next week will be going to the council for business rates,’ she said.

‘It means something else is not getting paid. The rates have to come first because I don’t want the bailiffs.’

A re-evaluation in 2017 is too late, she said.

‘Unfortunately there won’t be any shops by then,’ said Ms Mandrupson.

‘I won’t be here by then. I have been here 13 years – it’s upsetting. I’m the last one standing. I am only standing because I am putting my own money in to open the shop every day.’

The business ratings system is based on the rateable value of the property a company occupies instead of something fairer like its sales.

We want this to be seriously addressed by ministers as part of an urgent review.

‘I will sign the petition and so will my customers,’ said Ms Mandrupson.

To sign the petition visit change.org/p/uk-government-launch-an-immediate-review-of-the-business-rates-system-in-england-freezing-rates-in-the-interim.