Consultation launched over discount rates for new businesses

Consultation launched over discount rates for new businesses

Reporter:

Simon Meechan

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Consultation launched over discount rates for new businesses

Consultations have started on proposals to offer discounted rates for new business in Windsor and Maidenhead.

Since 2011 councils have been able to offer the reduced fees to traders as part of Government plans to stimulate the economy.

The Royal Borough chose to delay doing this, so it could evaluate how it has worked in other areas.

But in September councillors approved proposals for a consultation period. It began on Monday and is due to end on Friday, November 15.

The discount will be funded from taxpayers money and will only apply to new businesses. The council is seeking views on the length of the discount period, the impact it will have on existing businesses, which areas should be targeted and how to implement the discount.

Mike Atkinson, who owns the Scooter Cafe in Queen Street, said he is positive about the scheme - as long as it is only a temporary discount.

"Otherwise, it just subsidises businesses that are no longer new businesses," said Mike.

He also thinks the scheme should target specific geographic areas and attract businesses which bring something different to the Royal Borough's towns.

"It should concentrate on the areas with the most vacant shops," he added.

"We need to have diversity. Not more mobile phone shops, hairdressers and coffee bars."

Marie Leonard manages A. Boville Wright art supplies shop in Maidenhead High Street. She said: "It's a struggle for retailers. So any kind of relief is welcome. The fact that they are talking about it is a brilliant thing."

But Marie says that retailers will need more help with the high rents, running costs, and rates which make opening a business in the Royal Borough expensive.

She added: "Rates relief is fantastic but there needs to be some creative thinking to get those empty units back in use. They need to work with businesses and show a more hands on approach."

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