£2,000 council bill puts Highbridge shop's future in jeopardy
charitable business in Highbridge that sells second-hand furniture
to residents on low incomes could be forced to shut
after being landed with a £2,000 rates demand by Sedgemoor
Chatwin and Tina Gray, who run Highbridge Furniture Ltd in Morland
Road, say the organisation is run on a very tight budget and cannot
afford to operate without business rates tax relief.
is a not-for-profit organisation and Sedgemoor is able to give
groups like us 100% rate relief but instead it has asked to pay
£2,079, which is a huge sum for a small group to find. It
puts the whole future off our shop in question," Tina told
Burnham-On-Sea.com this week.
already owe £600 on top of the £200 monthly payments
from July and have to pay rent, water, fuel and power bills as
shop is a real community lifeline for many people here in Highbridge.
It is an essential organisation that helps many people on low
incomes and closing it would have a big impact on them."
Sedgemoor District Council spokeswoman Claire Faun explained the
reason for the tax demand: "Sedgemoor District Council can
only consider discretionary rate relief from registered charities.
There are criteria that have to be met by any organisation applying
for relief to ensure fairness and transparency for all the organisations
who apply for relief."
Grant Panel also did not approve the request for a grant, but
suggested that Highbridge Furniture links up with similar organisations
to avoid duplication of resources and effort."
says the proposal to link up with Sedgemoor Furniture Store "is
not an option" as the Highbridge shop operates in a more
community-centred way and that local residents are keen for this
Furniture received a Mayor's Community Award earlier this year
from former Mayor Ken Smout, as pictured and featured here.
praised the group's work and enthusiasm and said the shop was
a great example of localism and community spirit in action.
says the shop is now considering its next steps with an appeal
against the council's tax demand likely. She has already received
the support of local councillor Helen Groves who says she wants
to help the shop survive.