Traders give thoughts on future of town’s high street

PUBLISHED: 12:30 01 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:48 03 January 2019

East Devon MP, Sir Hugo Swire. Picture: Wikimedia.

East Devon MP, Sir Hugo Swire. Picture: Wikimedia.

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Calls for a further conversation to address rising business rates and keep Sidmouth’s high street thriving are among the top priorities of a new survey.

East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire consulted traders following a meeting in May and has revealed more than half of retailers saw their business rates go up this year by an average of 7.4 percent.

In total, 43 traders responded out of 250 to the questionnaire – 17 per cent.

Business rates are a property tax paid by occupants of non-domestic properties, who pay based on a multiplier set by the Government.

A review of rates and tax was called for by 95 per cent, with 32 per cent saying it should be based on turnover rather property value.

Town businesses welcomed news in the latest Autumn Budget which announced it would bring relief to small struggling shops until 2021.

The survey also addressed other key issues in the town such as parking and community life.

● More than 60 per cent agreed a park and ride system would be a good option, run seasonally.

● Nearly 60 per cent voted no for a multi-storey car park on The Ham. Half the respondents voted Knowle as the best location for a large car park.

● First class hotels and independent shops were voted Sidmouth’s most unique selling point.

● Traders also said a reduction in tourism VAT would boost the town - 56 per cent of those applicable said they would be prepared to pass the reduction on to customers.

● The appointment of a Sidmouth Czar was met with a lukewarm response and seen as a waste of money – but 88 per cent said they would support a wider consultation in a Sidmouth survey.

Sir Hugo said: “I shall ensure the Government continues to hear the voices of businesses in Sidmouth and across East Devon.”

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