Imminent rate rises threaten Welwyn Hatfield pubs

PUBLISHED: 10:03 22 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:37 24 February 2017

Pub landlord Adam Richardson.

Pub landlord Adam Richardson.

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Pub owners who fear imminent crippling rate rises that could put them out of business have vowed to fight to survive.

The Candlestick Pub owner Peter and son Oliver Rawlins outside the pub.The Candlestick Pub owner Peter and son Oliver Rawlins outside the pub.

Although no official bills have yet been sent out, anxious managers and owners have been calculating from the Valuation Office Agency website the likely demands that will hit in April.

Although some pubs are in line for substantial reductions, others apparently face massive increases that could force them to close.

Adam Richardson, director of a company running The White Horse in Welwyn, said “I am fuming.

“We are facing a huge increase of 50 per cent in business rates. We shall have to find an extra £7,500 a year.

“Not only that, but the other pubs in the village are mostly getting a drop, by 31 per cent on average. We don’t see how that can be fair.

“We are definitely going to appeal, but if that is not successful, it could be the pub becomes not profitable.

”We have no idea what this means for the future viability of The White Horse, but we will fight every step of the way to continue to be an important pub in our brilliant community.

Peter Rawlins, leaseholder of The Candlestick, Essendon, said: “It is a ridiculous increase. The rateable value was £7,800. They (the Valuation Office Agency) are now saying it will be £19,750, although we won’t know for sure until April.

“That would not be affordable and we will certainly appeal. But the appeals can take three to four years, and you have to pay the higher rates all that time.”

Andy Parish of The Eight Bells, Old Hatfield, said: “I’m in the process of waiting to find out how much my rates will be increased by. I’m concerned we’re on the edge of the cliff, because it would kill The Eight Bells.

“The rates going up will put the pub in danger, I might have no other option than to close the doors for the last time because we wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

Nick Brown, chairman of Welwyn Hatfield Chamber of Commerce, said: “Pubs facing big rates increases will likely be those who have had a big increase trade since 2008.

“However that increase should be based upon what an average person can achieve. If you have worked hard or have employed a particularly talented chef, and as a result your turnover has increased, it is wrong that you should have to pay more.”

A Valuation Office Agency spokesman told the Welwyn Hatfield Times a third of all businesses would be taken out of business rates altogether by the changes in April.

He said: “Nearly a million businesses will see their bills cut thanks to the biggest ever cut in rates – worth £6.7 billion.

“For those still paying rates, valuations are being updated so that they are accurate and fair.

Three-quarters of businesses will see their bills cut or stay the same, and for those that face an increase the Government has set aside a total of £3.6 billion so that these increases take effect slowly.

“We know that the Great British pub is a national asset, providing thousands of jobs and boosting the economy by £21 billion a year, and have worked with the five major trade bodies to agree a method of valuing pubs.”

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