St Edmundsbury Borough Council calls for licensing changes to combat business rates defaults

Clr David Ray. ANL-141003-161749001
Clr David Ray. ANL-141003-161749001

The borough council is one of five local authorities lobbying the Government for changes to licensing rules that allow unscrupulous business rate payers to run up huge bills they have no intention of paying.

The councils, all members of Anglia Revenues Partnership, have written to MPs and to the chief executive of the Local Government Association, asking for changes to be made to allow councils to suspend a premises licence to provide alcohol and entertainment if business rates are not paid.

Cllr David Ray, St Edmundsbury Borough Council Cabinet member for Resources said: “Provided an applicant for a premises licence can demonstrate they comply with licensing objectives such as public safety and not causing nuisance, we are required to grant them a licence, regardless of any persistent failure to pay their business rates.

“It is makes no sense that we must grant the means to run up even more debt that we have small hope of recovering.

“It is at the expense of the vast majority of businesses who effectively end up subsidising the persistent non-payers - and at the expense of local people, depriving them of funding for public services.”

Cllr Ray went on to say: “Most businesses pay their rates and we will work with them to try and avoid getting behind.

“Even without the licensing changes we will continue to pursue all unpaid bills, but the changes would certainly help ensure the same standard for everyone.”