Osborne bows to campaign

CAMPAIGN SUCCESS Ashley Highfield.

CAMPAIGN SUCCESS Ashley Highfield.

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Chancellor George Osborne has bowed to the demands of the Reporter Series and other Johnston Press newspapers after it was revealed he will launch a review of business rates.

So far more than 5,000 people have signed the petition, both in this newspaper and online, in a bid to convince our leading politicians that business rates need to be overhauled now, rather than wait for a review in more than two years’ time.

We have also called for business rates to be frozen while this review is conducted.

Yesterday it was revealed that Mr Osborne was to review the business rates system, in a bid to help high street shops compete with internet retailers.

He made the announcement in his eagerly anticipated Autumn Statement, which outlines the Government’s strategy for tackling the economy.

Our campaign has received praise from many quarters and now Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), has said: “The ratchet effect built into the current system sees many businesses paying rates that far exceed their rent and only ever increase, no matter how the economy is doing.”

A spokesman for our campaign partners British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), is delighted with the public’s response to our campaign and said: “The petition campaign is building momentum strongly and its combination of local engagement and national importance is unique.

“It’s a vital part of a growing movement to counter a damaging tax that will see another 2.3 per cent loaded on top of the burden on local businesses.”

Ashley Highfield, the chief executive of our owner Johnston Press, said: “It’s clear from the number of people that have signed our petition already the depth of feeling and support there is for small businesses up and down the country.

“Local businesses drive local economy and when that happens communities then thrive. As local media owners we have a duty to businesses – and the communities they serve – to ensure this remains on the news agenda if change is to happen and urge everyone to not only sign the petition but to shop locally too.

“These are the sorts of issues which are going to be of critical importance in the run up to the elections next year – and decision makers need to start listening.”

Click here to add your name to the petition.