Two Minehead Businessmen Land in Court for Non Payment of Business Rates
|Author: Stacey Beaumont||Published: 26th April 2012 10:04|
West Somerset Council has seen two cases pass through the courts recently of former business owners for non-payment of business rates.
Case 1. - Nigel Woods
Unpaid business rates of £1,364.30 on a car scrapping and spare parts firm based at 9, The Sidings, Mart Road, Minehead, led to the owner, Nigel Woods, being arrested.
He was bailed to appear before Taunton, Bridgwater and West Somerset Magistrates Court on April 20, 2012, following his failure to appear at a previous summons in December.
Steve Perkins, prosecuting for West Somerset Council, said that at a Liability Order Hearing in August 2008, Wood attended and did not dispute that he owed the money. He applied for small business rate relief and agreed to spread the payment of the balance over the remaining year.
Following that hearing, no payments were made and attempts to recover the money by bailiffs failed and warnings of court proceedings ignored, which led to his arrest in April.
Wood told the court that he was self-employed and had had a monthly turn-over of £2,500 from scrapping cars and selling parts. He had had to re-mortgage his property in 2009 and was solely reliant on a £600 rental of two rooms in his house. He disputed making the debt repayment arrangement at the 2008 hearing.
Wood was found guilty of culpable neglect and given a suspended prison sentence of 34 days. As there is a three-year repayment deadline for debts with suspended sentences, liability was reduced to £1,500 repayable at £10 a week. Committal costs of £475 were awarded to West Somerset Council.
Steve Perkins, the council's Principle Recovery Officer, said: "This case highlights the serious repercussions that an individual or business can face if they fail to pay their business rates."
Cllr Kate Kravis, West Somerset Council's Lead Member for Finance, said: "The council will not tolerate non-payment of business rates. It is simply not fair on the majority of businesses that do pay them. The choice for businesses that are struggling is to contact to us to see if we can help or risk going to court."
Case 2. - Darren Edgar Perkins
A debt from 2002 caught up with a former Minehead businessman, when he appeared before Taunton, Bridgwater and West Somerset Magistrates Court.
West Somerset Council needed committal proceedings to get Darren Edgar Perkins, who formerly ran Phatt Boy Slims café restaurant at 6, The Avenue, Minehead, in court for owing £1,959 in business rates in 2002.
The defendant failed to appear in court in December following a summons and was subsequently arrested at his current home in Torquay in March.
At the initial hearing on March 14, Mr Steve Perkins, West Somerset Council's prosecutor, explained that the defendant had moved many times and been in prison so attempts to recover the debt had been lengthy and unsuccessful.
The defendant initially denied knowledge of the debt, of speaking to the bailiffs about it or receiving any correspondence concerning the committal proceedings sent to his current Torquay address. Later, however, on examination by the magistrates based on the council's evidence, Darren Perkins accepted responsibility to pay the debt.
He was ordered to pay an interim £15 a week and a committal decision was deferred until April 20, 2012, when the court was told that he had made the repayments but lost his job and was applying for benefit.
Because of this, no committal was made but he must pay £5 a week and contact the council as soon as his circumstances change for a review of repayment arrangements. He was also warned that if the council had to issue another Committal Summons there might be further costs and he risked being sent to prison. Committal costs of £475 were awarded to the council.
Cllr Kate Kravis said: "Running away from this debt did not pay - it just increased the amount owed
"Hopefully, this will prompt anyone who is struggling to pay off a debt of this nature to contact us for help with a payment plan. We will do what we can to help."