11:00AM, Friday 29 May 2020
A business which provides flowers for high profile events including Wimbledon and Royal Ascot has hit out at the council after failing to receive any business rate relief.
Lavender Green Flowers (LGF), based in Bridgewater Way, Windsor, has had its revenue slashed after many events it would usually provide flowers for such as The Epsom Derby and the Chelsea Flower Show have been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic.
Back in March the Government announced businesses within the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors would not have to pay business rates this year. A one-off cash grant of up to £25,000 is also available from the council for businesses within this sector.
However Sue Barnes, owner of LGF, said the council has classified its site as ‘warehousing’ which means it is not eligible for any relief or grants.
She said: “I am utterly devastated that the Royal Borough does not feel that LGF qualify for the business rate relief and grant scheme and seem unwilling to help save the jobs of 32 local people.
“The council believes that as we are not a venue, we aren’t a hotel and we aren’t a normal retail outlet, we are not entitled to rates relief or grants.
“The business rates department believe that we are not open to the public which is fundamentally wrong, and the premises is classified as ‘warehousing’ – again, in practice, totally wrong.”
She says her business is dependent on the hospitality and leisure sector and claims other councils have made exceptions for companies in similar situations.
She says she has been offered a cheaper site in Hayes where she could base her business, but it has been based in Windsor for more than 30 years: “We are Windsor through and through,” she added.
The council said that businesses must meet the criteria and weekly meetings are held across councils in Berkshire to discuss any ‘grey areas’.
A spokeswoman said: “The business rates team have been working incredibly hard to provide assistance to local businesses who are eligible for the grant schemes devised by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
“To date over £36m has been awarded in business rate relief to over 1,200 businesses and almost £23m has been paid in grants to over 1,500.
“We are administering the grants on behalf of BEIS but each award must fit into the criteria they have supplied. If not, the Royal Borough risks not being refunded the sums paid.
“Government have been quite clear that there is no formal appeals process.
“However, the Royal Borough has ensured that any disputed decisions are reviewed initially by the head of service and, where the matter remains disputed, by the director of resources.”
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