Business rates and other contributing factors force Sidmouth retailer to lay off five staff members

High Street

High Street - Credit: Archant

A well-known independent retailer in Sidmouth has had to lay off five members of staff because of economic pressures made worse by the recent hike in business rates.

Adam Baker, who runs The Dormy House with his wife Caroline, said: “People didn’t realise how much they would have to pay and then it suddenly just happened.

“What a lot of businesspeople are asking is what do we get for the money?”

Adam added that their rates bill had risen by more than £500, meaning they had no choice but to let five part-time members of staff go and run the shops by themselves with some additional voluntary help.

The couple are among the many business owners in the town calling for urgent talks on the issue.

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The Anchor Inn is also facing an increase of £6,000 a year. Landlady Denise Fudge said:”It’s very short-sighted. I just feel that it’s going to kill the high street.

“There’s no real police presence. What are we paying for? Not so many people will be interested in setting up businesses in Sidmouth and then visitors won’t bother coming.”

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Steve and Lyn Clarke at The Rendezvous now pay £181 extra - and a total of £900 - a month.

“This is the straw that’s broken the camel’s back. If we have a year like last year we will have a lot more independent shops going out of business,” said Mr Clarke. “The council and the Government are running an obituary column.”

A meeting has been organised at the restaurant for Thursday, April 26, at 6pm, which East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire is due to attend. Other businesses that have expressed concern include Hayman’s Butchers, Flutterbys and Sidmouth Gifts.

Stewart Hayman, of the Church Street butchers, has previously said he made no profit last year. He added that, when he retires, he cannot see how Hayman’s can continue trading and may be forced to close after more than 110 years in the town.

Car parking charges are another concern for retailers. Parking is now £1 an hour in Sidmouth. In Bridport, it is only 40p an hour, with parking at the football club for just 50p for two hours.

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