Devon

Salcombe traders angry over rates increase

Salcombe
Image caption Local traders in Salcombe warn that they could be forced out by chain stores

Some independent traders in a Devon tourist destination fear that business rate increases could force them to close down.

Rates for Salcombe's only bakery have risen from £9,000 a year to £21,000.

Others facing rises of 50% say that with increased costs and VAT, they are tempted to sell-up to chain stores.

The Valuation Office, which has announced the increases as part of a five-year review, says the Salcombe rates reflect high rental values there.

Becky Simpson, who runs a clothes shop in the town, admitted that Salcombe had a reputation as a place for well-heeled visitors, with average house prices of more than £500,000.

'Income down'

But she said local traders were "not massively well off" and were already being squeezed by rising prices of raw materials and VAT.

"We are normal people with normal businesses," she said.

"My income is going down and our rates are going up.

"We just can't afford it."

She said some traders had been made offers from chain stores.

"It's tempting to just take the money and run.

"In that case Salcombe will become just one big chain store."

Ben Holt-Wilson, 37, who runs the Upper Crust bakery in Fore Street, said: "I'm working hard, but I don't seem to be progressing because of the cost of living - these rates and other commodity prices are just going through the roof.

"So I feel at the whim and mercy of councillors and government."

Business rates are set by a government agency, the Valuation Office.

Spokeswoman Alison Gidman said business rates were based on where the property was situated, not what was sold there.

Adjoining properties of the same size had the same rateable values.

"We don't treat different occupiers in any different way," she said.

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