‘Final straw’ A board charges to be set aside

By Marcus Law in Business

CONTROVERSIAL plans to charge businesses in Monmouth to display A boards and street furniture could be set aside.

Monmouth businesses reacted with anger this week after proposals bringing charges to business with A boards and street furniture came into effect, with the proposals being described as “the final straw” by some.

The charges, decided by Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) Cabinet last July, would mean that businesses with A boards would have to pay a one off license fee of £50, while those with larger displays such as tables and chairs would have to pay a one-off license fee and an annual fee between £120 to £360.

Under the changes, businesses would also be required to have public liability cover with a minimum value of £5 million.

The issue about A boards and street furniture was seen as another blow after businesses in the town were hit by prospective increases in their business rates following changes in the way the Valuation Office Authority works out rateable values.

Speaking to the Beacon yesterday, AM for Monmouth Nick Ramsay said: “I can see by the number of people present that the issue surrounding A boards is a major concern, and this coming on top of the business rates reevaluation is the last straw for many businesses.

“At the same time I’m continuing to collect signatures for my petition that I intend to present to the Welsh Assembly before April to try and get this reevaluation looked at again and a better system of rate relief put in place.

“If you take the A board situation with the rate reevaluation situation, its looking that after April its going to be increasingly difficult for businesses in Monmouthshire to survive.”

After widespread frustration, including a ‘sit out’ yesterday morning (15th February), MCC appeared to relax their position on the charges, insisting that the money side of the charges is “not material”.

In a statement on social media, MCC leader Peter Fox and chief executive Paul Matthews said: “Traders in this county are serious sensible people and they play a massive role in the success of our towns – without them we are lost.

“The policy around A boards [and] street furniture was agreed back in July 2016 after many months of deliberation. It was agreed well before anybody became aware of the madness being introduced to the rural trading community by the latest business rate revaluation exercise.

“It is not our goal to make life hard for traders and as such we are minded to ask council to re-consider their approach in light of changed circumstances and in the meantime set aside a policy that may be seen to frustrate trade.

“The money side is not material to the council so there will be no charges to traders anywhere in Monmouthshire for the time being.”

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