A HARTLEPOOL business leader has backed a plea to ‘Save Our High Street’ as astronomical business rates threaten to push traders to the wall.
Shopkeepers across the town are calling on Government to completely overhaul the business rating system to give them a chance to thrive.
The Mail, and parent company Johnston Press, have launched a nationwide campaign to support them.
Colin Griffiths, businesses consultant at the Stranton Business Centre and chairman of the Hartlepool branch of the Federation for Small Businesses, has welcomed the campaign.
Mr Griffths said: “In Hartlepool we get a lot of support from the council on business rates, and depending on the assessments, some businesses get 100 per cent relief.
“But anything which supports the smaller businesses has to be welcomed.
“Shopping habits have changed, and the bigger supermarkets can offer everything under one roof.
“But there is still life in the high street, there are some small businesses which have set up in Hartlepool recently and they appear to be doing well with the support of the community and the council.
“There are different situations across the country, but the FSB is already lobbying government for a review of business rates because they can have a huge impact on whether a trader stays afloat or not.”
At present, business rates are set by government based on a formula which includes shop area and property value in 2008 – the peak of the market.
Half goes to the government and half to the local authority.