Gwent AM calls for rate relief for Newport businesses
11:56am Wednesday 4th December 2013 in News
A GWENT AM has called for business rate relief for firms affected by redevelopment work in Newport city centre.
Tory AM Mohammad Asghar’s call comes after year long efforts by the Newport Chamber of Trade for some kind of rate relief for businesses in the city centre.
Demolition work in the city centre started at the end of October, and it is hoped that the construction on the Friars Walk complex will start in 2014 after the agreement of a £90 million council loan deal.
As a result John Frost Square and part of Newport Bus Station have been fenced off, while bus routes have been moved around the city centre.
Mr Asghar said: “The proposed re-development of Newport City Centre is greatly welcome and will benefit businesses in the long term.
“However, the current demolition work has caused major disruption to pedestrian access, and bus stops have been moved thereby reducing the number of shoppers in the city.
“I am calling on the Welsh Government to support the Chamber of Trade in their efforts to get business rates reduced for city centre traders adversely affected by this re-development work.”
Although they are collected by local authorities, business rates are not controlled by councils and are set by Welsh Government, although Valuation Office Agency sets what businesses pay.
Alan Edwards, president of the Newport Chamber of Trade, welcomed Mr Asghar’s suggestion, and said he had been calling for the move for 12 months and has been in touch with local AMs.
He says he has been told there would need to be a meaningful change in circumstances for businesses to appeal to the valuation office for a reduction, and has to be done on a case by case basis.
Mr Asghar raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions yesterday. The first minister, Carwyn Jones, said they were matters for him (Mr Asghar) to discuss with the City Council in Newport.
Demolition work in the city centre will see the Capitol car park, shop units in John Frost Square and Newport bus station removed.
It is hoped that work will start on Friars Walk next year with the centre completed by November 2015 in time for Debenhams’ intended opening dates of Christmas 2015 or Spring 2016.
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