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BUDGET 2020: “Andover is open for business”

Andover BID, leader of Test Valley Borough Council Phil North and local businesses talking to Andover Radio

Andover businesses “will benefit significantly” from yesterday’s budget.

Retail, leisure, hospitality and other businesses will receive a reduction or total removal of their businesses rates this year following Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘extraordinary’ measures.

Explain what this means for Andover businesses, leader of Test Valley Borough Council Cllr Phil North told 95.9FM Andover Radio, “There was great news in the budget for local businesses. 

“The business rates discount of 50% has been extended to 100% which means most businesses in Andover town centre will pay no business rates at all next year.”

Love Andover surveyed the high street recently and found of the 192 businesses in the immediate high street area (exclusing the Chantry Centre) 130 were locally owned. 

In a video from the Andover Radio studios, Cllr North said, “The majority will pay no rates at all.  Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or below will pay no business rates at all next year.”

Local businesswoman Christine Mellor from David Mellor Family Jewellers which has operated in Andover for 45 years said, “It’s brilliant, it’s very welcome. Last year we had a third off the rates, then it was going to be 50 per cent. And now we don’t pay anything at all. 

“This is a great help and very welcome indeed.”

Mrs Mellor added that she’s looking forward to a complete review of the way that business rates are set.  The Chancellor announced yesterday that the business rates system “as a whole would be reviewed” with conclusions published in the Autumn.

“This is what we were asking before we had the threat of coronavirus”, added Cllr North.  “We all know that the high street is struggling.  [The TV programme broadcast] a month or so ago said that over the past decade right up and down the country, town centres have lost 25% of their retail units.  It’s obviously a tough time for the high street.

“The fundamental review of business rates is really, really important because I hope when the Chancellor comes back in the Autumn he will have a fair scheme that makes it fairer for high street retailers against online retailers.

“At the moment, online retailers don’t have to pay for the bricks and mortar of being the high street.

“It’s much more expensive for high street retailers and we really need to equalise that in this country.”

Steve Godwin, manager of Andover’s Business Improvement District said, “The thing that’s really, really interesting about Andover is that we have 130 independent businesses, each business is unique and unlike the large chains – and we need those as well – locally owned business can adapt, be entrepreneurial and give great service. 

“I think if we can encourage people from other towns to come into Andover, it’s really easy to get here, car parking is good and the council are looking at something in April to make that even more attractive.

“Andover is alive, it’s open and we invite people to come in and sample what’s already going on in the town.”

Chancellor Mr Sunak described the business rates holiday as an “exceptional step” that would benefit many smaller businesses including retailers, gyms, small hotels and sports clubs, all of whom will be hard hit if customers stay away to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Cllr North, who pledged to #ShopLocalForLent (forfeiting online purchases in favour of using local companies for forty days), highlighted that the Chancellor had made £2.2bn available for local authorities to administer through the current coronavirus concern.

The council leader added, “Any businesses that aren’t claiming small business rates relief, or rural rate relief – meaning that currently they pay very little or no business rates – they will get a £3,000 cash grant to cover any business costs as a result of Covid-19 (cornovavirus) which is beneficial to those businesses to help them keep running whilst we get through this crisis.

“Andover is open for business.”

Watch the full interview with Councillor Phil North, Christine Mellor, Bev Power and Andover BID manager Steve Godwin below:

About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.