A prominent Newry business man has said that the recent business rates evaluation makes no sense and risks putting people out of business. In a wide ranging interview with Jack Murphy of Murphy Jewellers Hill Street has claimed that “There seems to be no joined up thinking whatsoever” with regards to the issue of business rates in Newry. A recent rates revaluation has caused concern among many people in the city with some predicting carrying on will prove to be almost impossible. “The feedback that I have been picking up for far has been absolutely disgraceful. You have one section of Government saying that they want to put town and city centres first and you have another section that seems to be trying to put them out of business,” he said. “There seems to be absolutely no joined up thinking whatsoever. That is very much my feeling. We are employing people in Government – we are paying them to run the country and to do it in such a way that is fair to everybody and give people a chance. Now it is well known within Northern Ireland – independent businesses have been the life blood over the last 40 years and we have ‘Johnny come lately’s’ coming in now and jumping on the band wagon and trying and really trying to put those people out of business with out of town developments with cheap rates and so on while the independent people have worked very hard down through the years to keep everything going and keep employment going and keep our towns and cities alive. I think we deserve an awful lot better,” he continued. Mr Murphy is also adamant that the rates revaluations are not in line with falling rents and the government increasing rates “makes absolutely no sense. “I think everyone is going to appeal (the revaluation). I am not too sure whether this [wasn’t] a ploy by the rates crowd – ‘sure we will stick something out and see what we get from there, you know? There doesn’t seem to be any other logic to it,” he said. The issue of getting a visible and fair return on rates paid in terms of the appearance of town centres and the services to them is also something that the businessman feels very strongly about and he emphasizes that there must be “Value”. “We also want better value for our rates. There is a whole cleanliness issue. We need better signage. The car parks need better facilities. There are just so many things,” he said. “What I am saying in relation to the rates is that there has to be in my mind on behalf of Newry City Centre Management – not only in Newry city centre but for all the town centres – there has to be a hard look at firstly the way that they are valuing these rates in comparison to rents that have been reduced down through the years and secondly that they have to a good look at what is needed by the business people and you have to listen to people.
9th December 2014