Wrexham shop boss’s anger over rise in business rates


Jonathan Grieve

A business which has formed part of Wrexham town centre’s trade for more than 30 years could be forced to relocate due to rising rates.

Mike Stubbs, who runs home audio store Acton Gate Audio in Penybryn, hit out at “faceless” Welsh Government bureaucrats and said he would not be able to afford the cost from April, when it is set to rise.

The current rateable value of the property is £11,000, set to rise to £13,250 from the next financial year – meaning Mr Stubbs will have to pay roughly £440 per month in rates.

He said: “We are just about surviving at the moment, but I think we are going to have to move.

”We expanded into our current premises a couple of years ago to try and grow the business and increase employment, but now it feels like we’re being punished for it.

”People in Cardiff really do not care about businesses in the north. They are closer to London than they are to Wrexham.

”I think the whole system should be reviewed – business rates stem from a time when things were easier for town centres.

”It is small businesses which get hit the hardest. Tesco’s rates are going down and we pay more than the banks in town.

”This part of Wrexham in particular has deteriorated over the last 20 years.

”We are constantly finding drug evidence around the property as well as people urinating and defecating both at the front and back of the shop.

”I keep getting told that a property’s rates are based on what it would rent for and as nice as we have tried to make it because it is ours, I don’t feel the rates we are paying reflect the location.”

In contrast to the rates paid by Mr Stubbs, larger commercial properties on the same street have rateable values ranging from £6,300 to £2,900.

Mr Stubbs said rates for his shop are higher than other businesses around him because the building was formerly in use as a pub – the old Swan Inn.

He added that although the Welsh Government’s business rates relief scheme was a help, it did not go far enough.

He said: “The majority of businesses get rates relief but the way it falls, the price breaks are so close together you don’t get that much off your bill.”

Penybryn has been the subject of much discussion in recent years, with the demolition of the Red Cow pub and Peppers seeing a change in the landscape.

Wrexham Council held successful negotiations with the Welsh Assembly to take ownership of derelict land at the bottom of Bridge Street and hopes to make the best of that site as well.

See full story in the Leader

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