Charity shops row: call for 'level playing field'

PUBLISHED: 07:54 26 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:38 15 June 2010

COUNCILLORS and business leaders in Honiton are to work together in a bid to examine the impact charity shops are having on trade in the town centre.

COUNCILLORS and business leaders in Honiton are to work together in a bid to examine the impact charity shops are having on trade in the town centre.They want the independent shops Honiton is famous for to be trading on a level playing field.As an eleventh charity prepares to move into a prime retail site in High Street, there is disquiet among business owners who say Honiton town centre is slowly going down hill.They claim the town is too small to accommodate 11 shops that are not paying full business rates.Some business owners would like to see Honiton go to central Government and call for a business rate rise for charities - so they are paying at least 50 per cent.Business expert Malcolm Sherry has said the idea is likely to fail - because politicians wouldn't see it as a vote winner.Ralph Hibbert, chairman of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says charity shops will be his "next area of research".Addressing the chamber's annual meeting last Wednesday, he said: "They are permitted to sell a certain percentage of new goods, but who is policing it?"Chamber members complained that, in some instances, charity shops are selling new goods already on sale in other outlets in the town.They also said charities could afford high rents - because they are not lumbered with big business rate bills.Councillor Vernon Whitlock, the Mayor of Honiton, Mr Hibbert and Mr Sherry are to meet to discuss the issue in greater detail.

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