COUNCILLORS have thrown their weight behind The News’ campaign to protect high streets and businesses.
Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Darren Sanders, of the Lib Dems, have come up with an action plan backing the bid to get business rates reduced to ensure local shops thrive and avoid closure.
The pair are calling for all local councils, such as those across the Portsmouth area, to have the power to set their business rates rather than the government.
It also wants the city council to publish specifically how it will protect Commercial Road’s shops and small shopping areas in Cosham, Tangier Road and Highland Road. They want business rates to be calculated based on turnover, rather than the rateable value of a property.
Cllr Sanders and Cllr Vernon-Jackson want Portsmouth’s political leaders to write to chancellor George Osborne and Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, requesting that these things happen.
Cllr Sanders said: ‘There is a real opportunity to do something here.
‘If local government has more control over business rates then it can do so based on local priorities, rather than them being set on national policies.
‘If you talk to people about business rates they think, ‘what does it mean to me?’
‘But when you say the way it’s calculated actively stops high streets from thriving, which is the case in many parts of the country, then they get interested.
‘The News has highlighted in a very positive way how we can give communities like Portsmouth more control.’
The campaign, which has also been initiated by The News’ sister papers in Johnston Press, has already received support from the likes of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and national Labour leader Ed Miliband.
An online petition set up by Johnston Press calling for a review of the business rates has attracted nearly 2,000 signatures. To sign, visit change.org/p/uk-government-launch-an-immediate-review-of-the-business-rates-system-in-england-freezing-rates-in-the-interim