March/April 1998                    112
 

Village Shop Rate Relief: SITA (2kb)

RURAL AREAS

The Scillonian Independent Traders Association (S.I.T.A.) has been much involved in looking into this recent new legislation. The Isles of Scilly with a population of less than 3,000 falls within the overall framework of the scheme.
Government quite rightly have accepted the fact that the burden of uniform business rates on businesses in small rural communities is a significant overhead, especially so in areas where seasonal trade is the lifeline to enable such businesses to function throughout the year.
The relief consists of two elements. There is a mandatory element which will automatically entitle certain businesses to a 50% reduction in their rates bill. This relief applies to sole Post Offices and the sole general store in a qualifying settlement provided that the rateable value is below a certain threshold. Any such rate relief will be deducted from the central pool and will not affect council tax payers.
The second element is discretionary relief. Here the local authority have discretion to grant relief to any business in the community which they believe is of benefit to the local community provided they have regard, in reaching their decision, to the interests of council tax payers.
In other words part of the relief granted would come from other local tax payers. As far as the Isles of Scilly is concerned there are two stumbling blocks;
  1. The very high rateable values can take businesses above the ceiling set to take advantage of the legislation.
  2. Our small area and thus population numbers mean that any discretionary relief the local authority may consider will have an effect on other tax payers. This is not nearly such a problem on the mainland where the much larger overall population within a local authority area will have a negligible effect per person. Many businesses in Cornwall are now benefiting from either mandatory or discretionary relief.
S.I.T.A. has thus been lobbying not only our own M.P. but been in correspondence with the Department of the Environment to look on these islands as a special case. We consider;
a) The rateable value threshold has been set too low. You cannot equate high rateable value to high profitability of a business.
b) Any discretionary relief that a local authority may consider granting should come from the central Government pool and not the local authority.
c) That instead of the scheme being a ”blanket” one for the whole country it should be regional to take account of local conditions.
Latest correspondence from the Department of Environment advise that they will continue to review the scheme now it is in operation. We anticipate as the association has taken up various points with them that we will receive up dates. Likewise our council has had some involvement and they will ensure that this association is kept in the picture on any developments from correspondence they may receive. This item of legislation will thus continue to be reviewed in the future.
 
 
 

LATE - BUT DESERVED

Thanks for the Xmas Lights

With the absence of John Hicks and Ian Hopkin we were all concerned for the future of our Christmas Lights.
Andy Stephan very bravely volunteered to take on the mantle of co-ordinator and together with Conrad Carruthers, Robert Powell, Clive Sibley, Antony Robson, Richard Hand, Ted Moulson, Mac Cattermoul, John Legg, Derek Guy, Ray Brown (a gold star here) all these willingly gave their time to ensure that we had our Christmas Lights (apologies if anyone is left out).
The Kavorna supplied mince pies which John and Ann from Evergreen warmed and served unceasingly after the service.
Len Michell provided the music and the Choral Society gave of their usual superb offering.
Reverend Julian Ould and Reverend Brian Mavers shared the MC’ing and of course most importantly the Park was full of locals young and not so young singing with joy to welcome Christmas!!!!!!
Sincere thanks to all who have donated to the Lights, to those who allow their premises to be used for ”plugging in”, to shops with collecting tins (there’s still time to contribute!!) and a special thanks to Andy and Sonia who endured stress and worry at this busy time so that we could enjoy a spectacular show.
Maggie Perkovic, (small time gopher).
 
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