10pc refund for years of Metro misery
Reporter: Lucy Kenderdine
Date online: 13 January 2014
Town-centre business owners are furious that after three years of Metrolink disruption that closed some of them down, all the compensation they are being offered is a 10 per cent reduction on their business rates.
Businesses along Union Street and nearby are locked in a legal battle over compensation as an end to Metrolink construction problems is at last in sight.
The Valuation Office Agency is offering only an allowance of 10 per cent. One of the people representing businesses in the town, Mike Peacock, said: “The agency has been particularly intransigent and have stuck their heels in, offering only 10 per cent from January 2011 to January 2014, for Union Street ratepayers.
“People have been significantly affected by the Metrolink works and have suffered problems with access, parking and building work. We do not consider 10 per cent is a sufficient reduction to reflect the disturbance.”
Mr Peacock continued: “One of the biggest attractions of businesses on Union Street and the surrounding area was the fact people could come down, park outside and nip into a shop or cafe for a few minutes.
“While the works have been going on that hasn’t been possible - and it has meant businesses have been charged more rent than their properties are actually worth.”
Claire Miller, manager of Q Print on Union Street, said: “Businesses deserve more compensation than just 10 per cent after the nightmare of the last few years. We’ve been losing around £500 a day since the work started. People simply haven’t been coming into Oldham and we’ve been told that if it doesn’t pick up in the new year, we could all be out of a job.”
Andy Heald, owner of Andy’s Auto Parts on Rhodes Bank, was equally upset: “Our walk-in trade has all but disappeared while the work has been going on.
“The reduction in business rates is a joke and nothing but a token gesture,” he said. “It just shows that no one cares about the businesses here.”
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