Hartlepool’s leaders demand fairer deal after nuclear power station rates cut

Emergency services on scene at Hartlepool power station.

Emergency services on scene at Hartlepool power station.

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Hartlepool’s MP and civic leaders will today appeal to a Government minister for a fairer deal after a massive tax bill cut to the town’s nuclear power station.

Hartlepool Borough Council saw £3.9million a year in business rates it receives from the power plant wiped out after a review last year.

Christopher Akers-Belcher and Gill Alexander. Picture by FRANK REID

Christopher Akers-Belcher and Gill Alexander. Picture by FRANK REID

Today the authority’s chief executive Gill Alexander and council leader Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher have travelled to London for a meeting with Local Government minister Greg Clark.

It has been secured by town MP Iain Wright, who will also be there.

Ms Alexander: “For us in Hartlepool, we are carrying probably one of the biggest financial risks in the country because of the nuclear power station with business rates.

“We have been pressing the Government to treat us as a special case. For a council our size to be carrying that level of risk from one facility is really high.

“Going forward, closure on that site when we are reliant on 100% of business rates money would be catastrophic for us.”

The power station’s rateable value was cut by 48% in review by the Valuation Office Agency last year, which reduces its annual rates payment from £16m a year to around £8m.

Around a quarter of the council’s entire business rates were due to the power station’s higher rate.

Out of the four power stations nationwide that had their rates revalued Hartlepool saw the biggest reduction at 48%, compared to an average reduction of 23% and lowest reduction of only 8%.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “Once the business rate changes we will be carrying a risk of £8m a year. We would have to build a thousand houses in Hartlepool just to raise £1.5m in extra council tax.”

He added: “We are the only unitary authority in the whole country that’s managing a risk around a power station. All the rest are county councils, which are much bigger authorities.

“It is encouraging that the Minister is prepared to meet and give us the opportunity to put our case to him.

“We would also like to thank our local MP Iain Wright for the role he has played in helping to secure the meeting.”

Coun Akers-Belcher previously said the rates cut poses a ‘serious threat’ to frontline services over the next few years.