Burton traders hit hard since the closure of St Peter's Bridge could be given a lifeline by council bosses. Shopkeepers across the town are being reminded they can apply to a hardship relief scheme run by East Staffordshire Borough Council which could see the amount they pay in business rates reduced.

It comes after businesses have been reported a massive dip in trade as the controversial bridge closure puts shoppers off the town due to traffic tailbacks.

St Peter's Bridge is a main route into town. It has been closed since Tuesday, August 29, and is not due to open until the end of November as work takes place to replace rusted bearings.

Burton Chamber of Commerce round table discussion about St Peter's Bridge.
Burton Chamber of Commerce round table discussion about St Peter's Bridge. Pictured are Richard Grosvenor and Andy O'Brien, leader and chief executive of East Staffordshire Borough Council

The council is able to grant up to 100 per cent relief to businesses which are suffering severe hardship. It would normally only do so in extreme cases and for businesses which are particularly important to the local community.

A call for a reduction in business rates was made during a meeting hosted by Burton and District Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, September 28, to allow traders and firms to come together to have their say. They discussed issues during the work by Staffordshire County Council which is undertaking the work as the highways authority.

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Businesses said they are suffering due to the closure of the bridge with some even forced to consider laying staff off as the work moves into its fifth week.

At least 30 independent businesses from across Burton were represented at the meeting which heard many firms may not be here at Christmas as more and more shoppers stay away from town due to traffic concerns.

Firms, including town centre traders and taxis companies as well as bus firms, say customers are just staying away because they are fed up with the long tailbacks caused by the closure of the main route in and out of Burton.

Market traders and stall holders are saying the bridge closures is killing their business
Market traders and stall holders are saying the bridge closures is killing their business

The bridge is closed while rusted bearings are replaced as part of of a £6.1 million scheme. If this does not happen, then a weight limit would have to be introduced on the bridge. A second phase of the project will see repairs to Burton Bridge, which would be closed.

The Burton Bridge work is due to take place next year and there are concerns that the traffic nightmare will continue when this work start.

Richard Grosvenor, leader of the borough council, said the authority, as a business was also struggling with a downturn in parking income and visits to the Meadowside Leisure Centre in the town.

The borough council was also asked if anything could be done to reduce business rates during the bridge closure.

Andy O’Brien, chief executive for the borough council said: "For those businesses affected by the bridge closure struggling to survive and pay business rates, the council operates a hardship relief scheme which they can apply to."

St Peter's Bridge - During changeover
St Peter's Bridge - During changeover

What relief is available:

There are a range of business rates reliefs available for different types of business.

This is the type of relief businesses can be eligible for

  • Charities and rural settlements
  • Retail discounts
  • Small business rate relief (properties with a rateable value below £15,000)
  • Supporting small business relief
  • Supporting pub relief

Links to these pages are available here.

The council is able to grant up to 100 per cent relief to businesses which are suffering severe hardship. It would normally only do so in extreme cases and for businesses which are particularly important to the local community. It would need to be satisfied that the business would suffer hardship if the relief was not granted, and takes account of the fact that local council tax payers will be paying part of the cost of the relief.

To apply, business owners need to make a written application setting out the reasons for the request. They must include business accounts, bank statements and any other evidence they have to support the claim, and post the application to the address below.

For further information please contact:

Write to us: Revenues Team, PO Box 8045, Burton upon Trent, DE14 9JG

Email: nndr@eaststaffsbc.gov.uk(link sends e-mail)

Telephone: (01283) 508416; 508417; 508418

In person: please visit one of our Customer Services Centres at either the Market Place, Burton; or the library, Uttoxeter.

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