Kersey: Rates lobbyist invites MP to see fledgling businesses at Kersey Mill after he fills every unit

MP Tim Yeo visited Kersey Mill near Hadleigh, which has now filled all of its shop spaces.

MP Tim Yeo visited Kersey Mill near Hadleigh, which has now filled all of its shop spaces.

A Suffolk MP has witnessed first hand the affects that a reduction in business rates can have on small or fledgling enterprises.

Tim Yeo, MP for south Suffolk, visited business units at Kersey Mill, which is now fully occupied after landlord Steve de Lara-Bell wrote to the Government treasury and took steps to get business rates reduced on his properties.

In May, Mr de Lara-Bell spoke out at a meeting in Sudbury hosted by Mr Yeo, where local business-owners voiced their concerns about the unfairness of the current rates system, which rates out of town supermarkets on a different scale to smaller shops.

Mr de Lara-Bell told the EADT: “Initially the business rates at Kersey Mill were huge and unsustainable for most.

“So we took advice and made the decision to split the building into smaller units, thus reducing the business rates considerably, and this has enabled us to let all of the units for the first time.”

Among the businesses currently running from the site are a wedding venue, beauty salon, fitness studio, coffee shop and women’s clothing boutique.

The latest addition to mill premises is a brick barn which has recently opened and been divided up into smaller affordable units, housing such diverse businesses as a florist, art studio, craft shop and cake shop.

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Mr de Lara-Bell said he is convinced that the key to getting empty and struggling high streets back on their feet and commercial units back into use is to reduce overheads.

He continued: “In recent years, we have seen running costs increase dramatically so getting rents and business rates down is significant and goes a long way to helping small businesses.

“We have seen that there are lots of people who want to run their own business if it is made affordable.

“As we are starting to see at Kersey Mill, some of the businesses here - which although are still in their infancy - are starting to employ staff and this is extremely encouraging.”

At a networking lunch in Sudbury last month, Mr Yeo told business-owners he would urge Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to review the rates system. He said upon examination of data provided by local business owners at his request, he now realised that rates were “one of the key considerations” for small businesses.

He said: “There is no magic wand here but I do understand the argument about equity, and it does appear that a big retailer operating on an out -of-town site gets a better deal than a small retailer operating in a town. We (the Government) need to look at the way that the (business rates) burden is shared.”

Mr Yeo, who met new and existing traders at Kersey Mill, and said he was “delighted” to see that all the premises were now occupied.