Help for small businesses and moves against over-development threat

The ConservativesProposals to help small businesses and defend the district against over-development are to be put in front of Ministers.

In the summer, Conservative councillors drew up proposals that would see the government pay small business rate relief automatically and abolish regional planning, including the controversial Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) document that calls for 32,800 new houses to be built in the district.

Automatic rate relief is being pursued by councillors after the Federation of Small Businesses estimated that more than half of small businesses nationally miss out on claiming back up to £1,200 off their business rates.

The Conservative proposals were sent to the Local Government Association for scrutiny and it has now announced that they will be passed to the Secretary of State in order to give the go-ahead to implement them.

Commenting on the rate relief proposal, Cllr John Godwin, the council’s economic chief and chairman of the authority’s economic taskforce, said:

“Small businesses form the backbone of our local economy and employ thousands of our residents.

Business rates are the third largest cost to small firms, after salaries and rent, but despite the council’s efforts to promote the rate relief that is available, we suspect that many small businesses in the area are still not claiming it.

We are in the deepest and longest recession in this country’s history and many businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water, so we are pleased that our Sustainable Communities Act proposal to make the payment of rate relief automatic is to be put in front of Ministers.

This is part of a much wider council effort to help more businesses survive through these tough times.”

Commenting on the proposal to abolish the Regional Spatial Strategy, Cllr Brian Allinson, the council’s planning chief, added:

“In October, a government planning inspector announced the go-ahead for a 220 new home development in Frampton Cotterell and stated that the RSS had ‘substantial weight’.

This decision has ramifications for the entire district and so we will continue to push Ministers to scrap their unpopular Regional Spatial Strategy and we are appealing to local MPs to help us with this.”

Source: Conservative Group on South Gloucestershire Council