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Giles Babb, chairman of Emsworth Business Association
Giles Babb, chairman of Emsworth Business Association

TRADERS have told The News they need help keeping their businesses running.

It comes after high streets minister Jake Berry last week launched a call for evidence on shop closures.

He visited Portsmouth yesterday, meeting with top councillors and Southsea businesses on a tour of Albert Road.

Further afield, businesses say they are experiencing similar problems.

Giles Babb, owner of The Blue Bell Inn, Emsworth, said: 'Business rates for pubs are grossly unfair.

'They are different to the rates for other businesses because you get set a rateable value every five years based on your turnover, rather than square footage, which means rates can be higher even though we have all the same running costs and so on as other normal businesses.

'Pubs' rates should be set in the same way as other businesses because we're already one of the highest taxed in the industry anyway. We pay a lot monthly, a significant chunk of our outgoings goes on business rates. 

'I think as a whole they need reviewing. You could work from home and not pay anything but if you're a high street shop you have to pay, and at a time when high streets are suffering, business rates and greedy landlords are killing them.'

Wayne Keeping, operations director for Stella's Voice UK, an anti-child trafficking charity, looks after the organisation's Portsmouth, Waterlooville and Havant stores.

He said: 'Business rates are an added cost for charities and in our case just divert money away from the kids we care for that could otherwise be spent on them.

'They don't affect our ability to operate but they do hinder us and we can't do as much work as we'd like because of them.'

Shane Davies, of The Crafty Makery, in Fareham, opens his craft shop on July 16.

He said: 'I don't pay business rates because my rent and square footage comes under the limit but if I would have had to pay rates then I would not have been able to start my business at all.

'I am at the end of West Street and would not be able to have my shop any closer because it would be too expensive – you would have to be a multi-millionaire to start up a business in the town centre.’

Councillor Ben Dowling, city council cabinet member for economic development, met with the minister.

Cllr Dowling said: 'We need the government to subsidise small business rate relief.

'Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy economy but are crucial to Portsmouth's prosperity.'

Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, hit out after not being invited to meet the minister.
He said 'botched business rates changes' are causing problems and 'the government is failing to stem the decline of our shopping streets'.