Usk tapestry group wins reprieve
3:02pm Wednesday 25th September 2013 in News
A VOLUNTEER group working on a community project in Usk that feared it would have to move premises after being told it must pay rates has won a reprieve.
The Usk Tapestry group, which is made of 16 volunteers and led by a committee, has spent the past four years working on a large tapestry at Usk Garden Centre.
Last month the project was moved to an empty shop on Bridge Street, after owner Arthur Griffiths allowed them to use his premises rent-free for the project which is expected to be finished by next summer.
As the listed-premises has been empty for seven years, Mr Griffiths has not been eligible for rates and assumed the situation would continue.
However, soon after moving in, the tapestry-makers were told by a valuation officer from HM Revenue and Customs that he would recommend to Monmouthshire council that they should be rated, even though they were not trading.
The rateable value of the shop was estimated at £4,500 until the end of March. The group, which is not a registered charity, appealed against the decision.
The council said it has a duty to charge business rates on all properties whose rateable value has been assessed by the Valuation Office. If the rateable value of a business premises exceeds £6,000 it is obliged to levy a business rate, but if the property is a listed building and unused there would be an exception.
Mr Griffiths said he offered the group a room in his five-roomed property to use and was disappointed by the decision to recommend charging a rate based on the whole ground floor.
Wendy Woods, the council’s revenue manager, has obtained a Certificate of Valuation which is valid for up to March 31, 2014.
Such a certificate can be used when a property is partly occupied but ‘for a short time only.’
She said: “The Valuation Office issues the certificate which allows the council to levy charges on a rateable value that is applicable for the space actually being used. In this case the certificated value is less than £6,000 so qualifies for 100 per cent small business rate relief.”
This means the group will have nothing to pay up to March 2014. After this date there will be levy charges unless it applies for a certificate and is successful.
Committee secretary, Judith Choppen said: “We are now able to work on the tapestry without the worry of rent or rates and hope to be finished in the spring.”
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