CHARITY shops in a town centre fear they could be forced out of businesses if rates increase.

Mold stores like Oxfam, Help the Aged and Salvation Army, who pay discounted or no business rates, are ‘difficult to sustain,’ according to the town centre manager.

Dave Hill’s comments came after other traders in the town complained they had to pay the rates but charity shops did not.

He said: “I don’t want to see Mold as a town centre of charity shops. We have reached a ceiling and if we were to have any more it would be very difficult to sustain.

“There are 13 charity shops in the town.”

He added: “While I have no problems with the individual charities, it’s the number of charity shops that is a concern with traders.

“We don’t want to stop them raising money but the main problem is business rates. Some of them pay business rates but most of them don’t.

“They don’t pay business rates and rely on volunteers but pay the manager a relatively modest salary which means they have got a financial advantage.

“We will be looking at how much rate relief they will have.”

Mr Hill added: “It’s difficult. It’s just a sign of the times.”

Sheila Stewart, who runs the Capricorn Animal Rescue shop on New Street, said: “It would really make it impossible to run if we had to start paying rates. It would mean closure without a doubt.

“I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing I have the charity shop because it’s a good source of income for us.

“We’re not just helping Capricorn but other people too because desperate families buy cheap clothes and furniture from us.

“Paying businesses rates will have a knock-on effect on them too.”

Traders raised their concerns at a Mold Town Partnership meeting recently.

A Flintshire Council spokesman said: “The council will of course listen to the concerns of the Mold Partnership and will continue to work with them to improve the shopping experience in Mold.

“While charities can take premises that then means these are not available for general business uses, they can play a valuable role in recycling, reducing effects of poverty, bringing people back into work and encourage volunteering, as well as raising money for local and wider causes.”