Coffee shop boss celebrates victory in rates rise battle
A LAUGHARNE coffee shop has been saved from closure after a change of heart in a rates row.
The Owl and the Pussycat in Grist Square had been slapped with a 700 per cent rates hike, taking its monthly payment from £92 to £726.
Owner Judith Brunsdon feared it would close by the end of the month, but was delighted when her appeal resulted in a more affordable bill of £256 a month.
She added: "Although it's £256 a month, at least that is attainable and workable.
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"At £726 the Owl and the Pussycat would have closed."
Judith's case was taken up by MP Simon Hart, who raised the issue at Prime Minister's Questions.
Mr Hart, MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, also urged the Welsh Government's Valuation Office to have another look at the increase.
The business rates were put up in August following internal alterations.
The Valuation Office said if a building is changed then its officers would carry out an assessment to ensure the rates being paid "were fair and accurate".
But she said she received a visit from the Valuation Office, which accepted the rates had been set too high and would contact Carmarthenshire Council to get them amended.
She added: "Simon Hart, Jane Tremlett and the Conservatives jumped on this so fast we got a result within a week.
"An appeal could have taken 12 months, by which time we would have gone under."
Judith said there were three permanent staff at the Owl and Pussycat, which goes up to six during the summer season.
She added: "Our suppliers are local businesses — everything we sell comes from Carmarthenshire or Pembrokeshire, so it would have had a bigger effect. We use at least 14 suppliers.
"It's the little people that are going to raise this country again and we need support."