10 February 2011
Camberwell businesses are hoping a block lobby to both Southwark and Lambeth councils will see a reduction in their business rates.
The idea is being led by Mark Dodds, who runs the Sun and Doves in Coldharbour Lane, who came across the idea when the road on which his business is based was closed for long periods.
After being chased for payments of business rates, Mr Dodds approached Lambeth Council to find out if there was any way he could get his rates bill reduced for a period when he claims business returns were hit by up to 20 per cent.
He told the ‘News’: “I was told that if we could get everybody together we could get back part of the business rates we have paid, because of the exceptional circumstances.”
The road works meant that footfall fell for a period and buses were directed away from the area, meaning cash over the counter fell all around.
Pounding the streets along Coldharbour Lane he found that he did have support for the idea from most of his fellow traders, and is now putting the final touches to the submission which he hopes to submit in the next few weeks.
But he told the ‘News’ he is seeking to take the block application idea a step further and he wants businesses both in Southwark and Lambeth to benefit from his next application.
He added: “We are doing our application in Coldharbour Lane and if all goes well we hope to have that approved. But by logical extension we felt that we were overpaying business rates in any case. The economic decline has meant everything has gone down apart from our overheads. The current rates were set before the recession came into place in 2010, but they are not reflective of what we should pay now.
“I know there is a will within the councils to work with us despite the feeling that we have as traders that they sometimes do everything to work against you.”
He is hoping to employ the help of Cambridge House in Camberwell to do the leg work for the application, which will involve each trader filling in an application form and returning it so it can be submitted en masse to whichever council their shop resides in.
Mr Dodds said: “I have to put that template together for them now to show them how to fill in the form and then it is a case of returning it to us. I know that the vast majority of traders will be willing to give up half an hour of their time to do it.
“Some may say it is a waste of time, but any of them worth their salt will realise it is worth a go. The council do want to have a feel good story showing how they have worked with local businesses to help an area, but we have to show there is a group willing to do this.”
He hopes to use the plan to trigger further projects that will help businesses in the area, with the help of the local SE5 forum.
He added: “If this works we will ask for a small percentage of the savings that each business has made to help us fully establish the forum. That money will then be used to come up with other initiatives, in consultation with them, which will help them save money in the future and make the area a better place to shop in. For me that is the way
the forum and the area will prosper.”
If you wish to contact Mr Dodds about the initiative e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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