Call to overhaul 'grossly unfair' business rates

Cllr Jas Atwal

Council leader Jas Athwal - Credit: Redbridge Council

Business rates are “grossly unfair” to the high street in Redbridge and around the country.

That was the message from Redbridge Council’s leader Jas Athwal when he spoke at the borough’s full council meeting last Thursday (January 20).

Labour councillors urged the government to overhaul business rates and “shift the burden” onto online retail giants such as Amazon.

Councillors resolved to give local communities more control over the strategic direction of their high streets and take a more proactive role to stop shops staying empty for long periods.

A report on the health of high streets in the borough will also now be produced annually, councillors agreed.

Cabinet member for stronger communities John Howard, who introduced the motion, added: “Enormous companies like Amazon can base themselves in tax havens and paying nothing.

“That impacts on the community, on jobs, on the council and on local people."

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Local Conservative leader Cllr Linda Hugget argued the government has spent “millions of pounds on grants for our high streets and shopping centres”, although her group nonetheless voted in support of the motion.