Council hits back at criticism of off licences, business rates and council tax

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COUNCIL bosses have spoken out to bust ‘myths’ about alcohol licensing, business rates and council tax.

Boston Borough Council has been criticised in discussions online, including The Standard’s Facebook page, for allowing too many off-licences to be opened.

In reponse it stated: “So far as licensing establishments for the sale of alcohol is concerned, Boston Borough Council is required to follow legislation which applies nationally.

“The council has a licensing policy, but it is not permitted within that policy to say who it will and won’t give a licence to.”

The council says the laws:

l do not require people to speak English to get a licence

l give no discretion over whether or not to grant a licence where there are no objectors

l do not allow, even with objections, the council to refuse licences on the grounds that there are lots of similar shops or that there has been a premises licence held at the same place previously by a different person who had theirs revoked

The statement added: “Recent social media chatter that licences have not been revoked for sale of non-duty paid alcohol is incorrect.

“Of the five that were revoked in 2011 some were revoked for the sale of counterfeit and non-duty paid goods, others were for non-duty paid goods only.”

The council also wanted to stress the laws around council tax and business rates. It said:

l there are no nationality-based exemptions or reductions for business rates and council tax.

l all businesses with a rateable value below £6,000 do not have to pay rates.

l it is not true that shops open for a short time only do not have to pay business tax. Opening, closing and opening again in a new location is not a way of avoiding paying.

The council added: “All residential properties are eligible to pay council tax, including properties where there is shared occupation (HMOs – houses of multiple occupation) irrespective of who lives in them or where they come from.

“There are exemptions and reductions according to the circumstances of the individuals living in those properties – single people living alone, those with no income or limited income, for example. And all can be eligible for these, irrespective of nationality.

“Why should you not try to dodge paying any business rates or council tax which you are eligible to pay? Because it’s the law, and because, in a civilised society, all benefit at some time and at some level from the many services it pays to provide.”