Exmouth market closure threat

EXMOUTH S award-winning market could close. Jerry Miller, the manager of the indoor shopping complex, has hinted the centre could shut if each stallholder is charged business tax – a plan being considered by the Valuation Office Agency. Mr Miller, who cur

EXMOUTH'S award-winning market could close.

Jerry Miller, the manager of the indoor shopping complex, has hinted the centre could shut if each stallholder is charged business tax - a plan being considered by the Valuation Office Agency.

Mr Miller, who currently pays the rates for the entire market which celebrates its 30-year anniversary in 2010, said the complex may have a bleak future if each trader is asked to pay.

He said: "The Valuation Office Agency are trying to impose business rates on all our traders.


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"At the moment we are still classified as a grey area which means hopefully they won't put it through because if they do, we really are in trouble."

Under the current business rate calculation process, the market is given a rateable value which is reviewed every five years by the Valuation Office Agency - a body affiliated to the Inland Revenue.

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The rate is also calculated using a multiplier set by the Government. This determines the percentage, expressed as pence in the pound, to be paid. Local authorities then use the VOA's assessment to calculate a bill.

Mr Miller said: "If the VOA did put through a new valuation on us and Exmouth continues to trade as it has done for the last year or two, we wouldn't I'm afraid to say have much of a future.

"It has been terrifying me now for the last 18, 24 months, since the VOA reared their heads on this issue. It is a big, big worry."

Mr Miller, reflecting on business at the market this year, said the number of people visiting the centre had decreased.

He added: "The numbers (of people) in town now, are just not what they used to be.

"If you can't get people into the town centre, it doesn't matter how strong your business is, you will suffer. You need Exmouth as a whole, to be trading far better than it is at the moment.

"I have given the stallholders three months free rent this year, so that gives an idea that trade in the town is not good.

"Next year is going to be another horrible struggle for us and I'm already committed to giving away a rent free month in January and I can see it happening again throughout the year.

"We are still fighting our way and not giving in, that's for sure but I can see the future is going to be a tricky one at the moment."

A spokesperson for the Valuation Office Agency said: "To maintain fairness and consistency, the VOA will undertake a review of town centre market halls during 2010.

"The aim of this exercise is to ensure uniformity, in that business rates liability is correctly applied to either the overall market site or the individual stall holders, whichever is most appropriate in accordance with the legislation and relevant rating case law.

"This review will be carried out in close consultation with market owners, traders and trade associations.

"This ensures that potential changes are flagged up well in advance and that opportunities are available to provide detailed information in respect of occupation of the stalls, which will support the decision making process.

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