Empty shops on the high street are common across the county. While the reasons behind this vary, an increase in business rates is one of the major culprits.
“In Raglan, the rates of one shop went from having exemption to paying £6400 a year,” says Alison Willot. “Another building found its rateable value increase from £16,000 to £64,000. While the introduction of these new rates has been staggered, it doesn’t alter the fact that the new rates are just too high.”
Alison outside the town's former Nat West building
Alison points out that the rates were put up by the Conservative Government’s Valuation Office, which didn’t even come to look at any of the buildings in Raglan. “Not only should the revaluation be done again, but the government should alter the whole system of rates. Our local shops are fighting against online companies who don’t pay anything like the proper amount of tax. Lib Dems say that the whole system needs replacing.”