Councillor Lister writes to Putney

Supporting local businesses and parking in Richmond Park ....


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Cllr Lister's previous diary

If ever there was a case for councils being able to set the local business rate it was the reaction to this year’s terrifying increases in bills.

Many small businesses faced with financial ruin as a result of the loss of the transitional relief which accompanied the 2005 revaluation have turned to the town hall for help.  Of course the money councils collect from businesses goes straight to the Treasury – but that doesn’t stop many traders seeing it as a local tax.

Councils have a vested interest in the continuing vitality of local shopping streets. That’s why we offer incentives to business to improve their premises and tackle vacant shops. Now we are going a step further by launching the capital’s first hardship scheme aimed specifically at small traders pushed to the edge by excessive rate increases.

The scheme sets out to help otherwise sound businesses avoid becoming victims of a spiralling tax over which neither they, nor their local council have any control.  The current crisis coming on top of the recession has reminded us all of the vital relationship that has always existed between small businesses and their town hall.  

Wandsworth as a low tax borough could be relied on to set competitive business rates aimed at encouraging investment – but the added accountability that would come with actually setting the local rate would make any council much more responsive to local business concerns than any Chancellor. 

Later this month the council will write to local business affected by the loss of transitional rate relief explaining how the hardship scheme works.  In the meantime the latest free advice session for businesses on surviving the recession takes place on April 16 at the Munal Restaurant, 393 Upper Richmond Road.  The event is organised by the council and the chamber of commerce and is aimed at businesses in West Putney. More details from town centre manager Stephen Wallace on 020 8785 0374.

Finally there’s still time for sending back your views to the government agency that runs Richmond Park on its plans for levying new parking charges. The council will be distributing response postcards next week to homes throughout Putney. The deadline is May 1st so please send off the postcard as soon as you receive it – you can also do this online at

Having the park on our doorstep provides a real escape from city life for Putney  people – but with public transport sadly lacking there really is little choice but to use the car for family visits. Let’s tell the Royal Parks and the government minister in charge Barbara Follett to sort out the transport before they hit us with another motorists’ tax.

Edward Lister

April 9, 2009

Edward Lister is the Leader of Wandsworth Council and a member for Putney's Thamesfield ward.