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Rise in business rates could lead to closure of rural petrol stations warns Farron

December 9, 2009 12:00 AM

Road users in South Lakeland are being punished by the Government's decision to increase the rateable values applied to petrol stations, according to MP Tim Farron who has warned that rural petrol stations could face closure unless the Government reverses their decision.

While convenience retailers - such as Tesco Express - have their rateable value calculated on their square footage, independent petrol retailers are charged according to their turnover, making their business rates far greater. Through the recent business rates revaluation, some petrol stations in South Lakeland, such as the half a dozen independent petrol stations owned by Mr Simon Hockings on the A591 and A590, have seen their business rates rise by as much as 56%.

Given that independent petrol stations provide a vital service in rural areas where petrol stations often provide the only commercial outlet for many miles, Mr Farron has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling on the Government to introduce concessionary rates for rural petrol stations.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"The valuation office seemed to have conjured these business rates completely out of thin air. How can it be fair for supermarkets to have their business rates kept relatively steady when at the same time an independent petrol station can have theirs shoot up by over 50%.

"This decision will have a disproportionate effect in South Lakeland, where the car is a necessity and not a luxury and where petrol stations often provide the only commercial outlet for many miles.

"The Government should rectify this situation by introducing concessionary rates for rural petrol stations to protect local businesses and ensure we continue to have a viable and thriving rural economy."