Bristol traders threaten to stop paying business rates

The temperature is rising in Bristol over the Mayor’s controversial plans to impose Residents’ Parking Zones (RPZ) across the city. Traders in Gloucester Road are banding together and threatening to withhold their Business Rates unless Mayor George Ferguson acts on their concerns.

Local butcher Tom Murray is furious at the proposed RPZ, which will add overhead costs of £240 per year for each business permit and £500 for each customer permit. ‘We've had a hit where the banks didn't support local businesses for many years,’ he says, ‘and then we get conditions of RPZ that's going to seriously effect small businesses.’

He fears the high cost of permits will force customers away and he is more than prepared to withhold paying his Business Rates and pay them into an independent bank account until the issue is resolved.  ‘If it was legally feasible to,’ he says, ‘myself and others that are talking about it at the moment are quite prepared to do it. If the council won't listen to us, maybe someone from the Government will listen to us.’

This proposed action by the ‘Gloucester Road Dozen’ is making the Mayor blink. ‘They're not listening to me,’ blustered Ferguson. ‘I am willing to adapt. I care, more than anybody does, about small and independent traders in this city. I have a record of doing so and they know that. If they don't work with me then they are very, very ill-advised.’

Much resistance to the Bristol RPZ seems to be coming from the rushed nature of the Mayor’s announcements as he seems to be making up policy as he goes along. He is now considering cheaper parking permits for smaller businesses and introducing a citywide permit for traders who need to drive around the city. Perhaps he might have thought about this before wasting traders’ time as they are now forced to organise protests and petitions to oppose his plans. Bureaucrats are paid to come up with these proposals—and yet protestors have to spend their own time and money opposing ill-thought-out ones.

A further blow was delivered to the Mayor’s parking plans when a local community association declared their outrage at the lack of proper council consultation on this policy, calling it a ‘sham’.

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