A STAFFORD businessman is moving back to his old premises after racking up debts of £700,000 since relocating two years ago.
Charlie Harvey says business rates of £32,000 a year levied by Stafford Borough Council (SBC) are crippling him.
Mr Harvey, who runs Stafford Tyres with his business partner Adrian Booth, says he has tried unsuccessfully to get a reduction in his rates.
He even wrote to the Prime Minister, who passed the matter to the Department for Communities and Local Government.
They said the council has had discretion to cut rates since April.
The business moved from Marston Road, where it had been based for more than 20 years, into a new base in Gaol Road.
Three days after getting planning permission to convert the premises the business was hit with a bill for a year’s rates.
With insurance and mortgage costs on top Mr Harvey says he has decided to cut his losses and move back to Marston Road where the rates are £2,325 a year.
“I wish I had never bought the place and stayed at Marston Road. The rates are £32,00 a year - we don’t even earn that.
"Then there’s insurance and £1,500 a month mortgage,” he said.
“We employed three new guys here so when we move back we will be overstaffed, so one may have to go, but that’s the last resort.
Mr Harvey and his business partner took a pay cut when they moved in order to pay the rates.
"We owe more money now than we did in 1990 when we started. We owe about £700,000 in mortgages.”
The Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The government believes billing authorities are best placed to make local decisions and it is up to individual councils to decide how to use their powers under the legislation.”
They added that since April this year councils have had power to discount business rates.
“Local authorities will be able to respond to local circumstances by reducing business rates bills as they see fit.”
Malcolm Vickers, the council's deputy chief executive, said: "The council has powers to assist business ratepayers where it can be demonstrated that it will be in the wider interests of the council taxpayer.
“The council considers each case on its merits. If the gentleman concerned would like to contact the council we will be happy to discuss his circumstances."