Hartlepool power station shortfall meeting ‘positive’ says MP

Hartlepool Power Station.
Hartlepool Power Station.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright described a meeting with a government minister about the financial risk from business rates from the nuclear power station as “positive”.

Mr Wright secured a meeting with Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Local Government, to ask for help after an annual £3.9million cut in the power plant’s business rates payable to Hartlepool Borough Council.

We are unique in England in terms of the impact a power station has on local government finances

Iain Wright MP

Council chief executive Gill Alexander and leader, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, also put Hartlepool’s case for a fairer deal at yesterday’s meeting in London.

Mr Wright said: “I opened by saying the minister will hear ‘this is a special case’ all the time, but genuinely the impact on Hartlepool council’s finances with regard to the business rates is a special case. We are unique in England in terms of the impact a power station has on local government finances.

“The size of the rates reduction is huge and it is a recurring thing, £3.9 million every year.

“We asked what the minister can do to make sure Hartlepool is identified as a special case and if there could be some sort of transitional arrangement or additional payment could be made to recognise that.

“To be fair to the Secretary of State he listened intently. He didn’t write out a cheque but said he would see what flexibility he had in his own budget.

“It was positive and we found it helpful.”

The revaluation of the power station’s business rates saw its annual tax bill reduced by 48% from £16 million to around £8 million.

The Hartlepool delegation also highlighted the risk to the council’s budget as changes in government policy mean local authorities will become increasingly dependent on business rates.

The power station does not have to pay business rates during unplanned shutdowns as in 2014.

Mr Wright added: “The system at the moment does not recognise or address that. The minister will now talk to his officials, Gill and Christopher will pull together further details and it is case of keeping in touch.”