Cleethorpes traders want rates reduction due to landslide at Stainforth
THE landslide that has sidelined northern Lincolnshire's rail links could justify a reduction in business rates for the tourism trade, a leading Grimsby property professional has suggested.
The Stainforth incident, involving hundreds of tonnes of spoil from a colliery, has seen the Scunthorpe to Doncaster section of the network closed – until July at least.
And with tens of thousands normally expected in Cleethorpes from South Yorkshire in the early summer period, fears abound that such large scale disruption – with unpopular replacement bus services – could see many make alternative plans.
Road closures are listed on the Government website as an example of a "material change in circumstances" that could qualify for a review from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).
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Lawrence Brown, a chartered surveyor and partner in Scotts, of Town Hall Street, said: "There is no guarantee, but it is certainly an opportunity for businesses that feel they have been affected. There is real scope for this to represent a material change in circumstances. That means the VOA then had to look at the impact that it has had on the business, and it can choose to reduce the business rates accordingly for the appropriate period.
"In Cleethorpes the railway line so close to the beach is a real attraction to people from the South Yorkshire area. The season traditionally opens at Easter."
The slip in a huge spoil heap at Hatfield Colliery, has shifted the line, with engineers unable to work on it until it had settled.
Estimates by Network Rail now put the time required to complete works at 16 to 18 weeks.
Andrew McCluskey, owner of Kingsway Kiosk, said: "It really would help. There has just been a succession of issues.
"Three years ago the railway was down because of major repairs, and we have had a couple of fairly bad seasons, culminating with the wettest summer on record.
"It just feels like every year there is something else there to make the season bad for you.
"Support for the industry would be appreciated so we can maintain levels of excellence we do provide for the tourism offer, and give employment to staff.
"Any help to do that we would welcome."
The resort's MP, Martin Vickers, said: "It is an interesting thought and I have set my researcher looking into it, though I rather doubt any government would acknowledge such an issue, because it would open the door to any natural occurrences or similar events resulting in road closures and other possibilities.
"I am, however, in the business of representing the interests of my area, and if there is anywhere within the rules and regulations that offers an opening to put this forward, then I will give it serious consideration."
Businesses keen to apply for a discount should visit: www.gov.uk/business-rate-appeals/overview