Local shops ‘struggling to pay rate bills’

UNCERTAIN FUTURE Shine Hair Salon owner Alex Keogh, right, and senior stylist Angie Withers
UNCERTAIN FUTURE Shine Hair Salon owner Alex Keogh, right, and senior stylist Angie Withers
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A HAIR salon in Southsea faces an uncertain future after the government put the shop’s rates up by £50 a week.

Shine Hair Salon, in Marmion Road, has been slapped with an annual rates bill of just under £13,000 a year, up from £9,900 last year – a rise of 31 per cent.

The government sets the rate, but the money is collected by Portsmouth City Council.

Owner Alex Keogh says she has already had to reduce her stylists’ hours because of the economic downturn, saying fewer people have money to visit the salon.

She added: ‘I am absolutely gobsmacked by the increase.

‘Fifty pounds a week is a hell of a lot of money to find.

‘I am a small business and this is the start of my third year in business.

‘I think it’s about time people in this town started standing up for the small independent business of this city.’

Mrs Keogh has started a petition and is distributing it to the other shops in her area, asking them to join in her fight to have their rates reduced.

‘The council gave me a relief of £235 but it’s not enough,’ she said. ‘There are also other shops here who didn’t have to pay, but they lowered the payment threshold and now they do.

‘I’m going to be speaking to my MP Mike Hancock about this to see what he can do.

‘It’s just not fair.’

Rates specialist CVS says the way is open for businesses in Portsmouth to appeal their set rates.

Chief executive Mark Rigby said: ‘The good news is that you don’t have to accept your existing rates bill and can appeal it.

‘Our experience shows that many businesses are paying too much and could potentially save around 10 per cent of the business rates paid if they appealed against the charges.

‘A saving like this on your third biggest overhead can make a real difference in the current economic climate.’