Shops need ‘powerful case’ to tackle rates

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo has said the burden of business rates needs to be addressed, and has called on Sudbury shops to club together to push for change.

As businesses in the town and the surrounding area continue to condemn the expensive rates they pay – leaving many facing an uphill fight to stay open – Mr Yeo said the high costs had become a “significant” problem.

“It seems to have got worse in recent years and something needs to be done,” said the 67-year-old Conservative party member.

“Progress to tackle the issue has been pretty limited so far and it is very frustrating because it is a widespread problem.”

Numerous business owners have contacted Mr Yeo calling for him to take concerns over rates, which are assessed on the valuation of a shop’s annual rental cost, to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Last week, David Thompson, owner of three Sudbury businesses, and Jane May, who runs Lady Jane in Long Melford, both spoke out on the subject.

In response, Mr Yeo said shops needed to join forces if they were to have any impact, adding that he planned to hold an open meeting before the end of February.

“I have had letters from a few businesses and have had answers back from junior members of Parliament, but we need eight or 10 businesses,” he said.

“We have to put together a powerful case showing how the proportion of costs incurred by business rates has risen compared to wages and other costs. We need a good cross-section of shops to demonstrate the burden in order to get a sympathetic hearing from the Government.”

Mr Yeo will be at the Conservative Club in New Street, Sudbury, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm tomorrow.