Publican's rate increase shock

A DISGRUNTLED rural publican has told how he has been “punished” for transforming his business - after being hit by a 100% rate increase. The owners of the Swan Inn have spoken of their anger after they were informed they would have to pay almost �500 extra a month.

Dave Gooderham

A DISGRUNTLED rural publican has told how he has been “punished” for transforming his business - after being hit by a 100% rate increase.

The owners of the Swan Inn have spoken of their anger after they were informed they would have to pay almost �500 extra a month.

Jonny Aldis said the increase sent out the wrong message to small businesses at a time when he claimed the Government should be helping rural companies.


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Now he, and his business partner Andrew Cox, who took over the Woolpit pub a year ago, have insisted that they will not pay the increase until a compromise is reached.

Mr Aldis told the EADT: “I was fuming when I heard about the increase and the fact that I had been punished for making improvements to the pub.

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“We only spent a few thousand and that was only because the pub was so disgusting when we took it over. We pay all manner of taxes and are enduring the worst recession for 30 years and the worst time for the pub trade in 100 years. But this is sending out the message to small companies not to improve their business.”

Following a visit from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) last month, the pub was hit with an increase in business rates from �5,000 per annum to �10,650 per annum.

While the pub has been spruced up, Mr Aldis said interior painting and redecoration and the installation of a kitchen fan did not warrant the doubling of its rateable value.

In a letter to VOA and Mid Suffolk District Council, which collects the money, he wrote: “The public house trade has been hit harder than most over the recent years.

“We have saved a failing local pub and landmark village building from decay and closure. It seems unjust to penalise small businesses for improving the service they give to the public and for trying to continue to stay in business in a time of great recession.”

A spokesman for VOA said: “The assessment is based on a property's open market rental value at a standard date.

“For licensed premises, it is the potential for trade that particularly affects the rental value. So if changes are made that enable an improved trade compared to that currently assessed then the valuation officer will amend the rateable value.

“This needs to be done in fairness to all ratepayers and to ensure the assessment is in line with other public houses and rents paid. We have been in contact with the licensees of the Swan Inn and advised them that they can make an appeal.”

A spokesman for Mid Suffolk said: “We are not responsible for setting business rates - this is the responsibility of central government.

“We can understand how frustrated the owner of the Swan Inn at Woolpit must be feeling. We apologise for any inconvenience this will have caused and would urge him to talk with the Valuation Office directly to discuss the rateable value of his property.”

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