Greengrocer vows not to give up rates battle

Peter Patterson from All Seasons Fruiterers in High Street Lee-on-the-Solent
Peter Patterson from All Seasons Fruiterers in High Street Lee-on-the-Solent
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A GREENGROCER says he is not giving up on his fight over paying business rates – despite his case being quashed at tribunal.

The row started over a boundary wall at the back of All Seasons Fruiterers, in High Street, Lee-on-the-Solent, which was installed when the shop expanded in 1990.

Owner Peter Patterson says the metal and wooden partition, which separates a storeroom and preparation area at the back from the shop floor, is permanent. But the Valuation Office Agency said it could easily be removed and as such means he must pay a higher rate for the whole shop as it is deemed as a sales area.

Mr Patterson, 70, claims he has overpaid by thousands of pounds – and has now vowed to stop paying his business rates until the issue is looked at again.

He said: ‘We will not be paying any further business rates until at a minimum, there has been an amendment and subsequent refund of over payment since 2010.’

Mr Patterson, from Gosport, employs his son, and four other staff members at the shop, which has been in business on the high street since 1988. His case was heard at a tribunal hearing at the Winchester Hotel in Worthy Lane, in May.

But the Valuation Office Agency stood by its decision to charge him a higher rate for the area.

Mr Patterson added: ‘There are no protective mechanisms in place to protect all business rate payers during a 
government-declared recession, and this needs to be addressed.

‘We’ve been trading on Lee High Street since May 1988, we’re prepared to put our roots at risk of losing if only to publicise our case on behalf of many others in the UK.’

He said he is now seeking legal advice to further claim back any costs and take the decision to court.

Mr Patterson has sent warnings to his local councillors – and he added that if he loses his fight, it may lead to him closing his shop for good.

He said: ‘I have no intention of paying as a point of protest. This may have serious implications such as the loss of our shop from the High Street but this is a risk that I’m willing to take if it underlines the failings with current law.’