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Molloy raises Small Business concerns with British Government

22 July, 2003

Sinn Féin Representative for Mid-Ulster and former Chairperson of the Assembly Finance and Personnel Committee, Cllr. Francie Molloy has held an hour long meeting with British Direct Rule Minister Ian Pearson to discuss a range of finance related issues. These included rates, industrial de-rating, water charges/tax, vacant property rates and the failure to deliver EU Peace II monies.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Molloy said:

" The meeting dealt with a range of key issues with particular relevance to the development of small to medium businesses. I left the Minister in no doubt that if the blanket industrial de-rating was to be removed a relief scheme needs to be put in place for all small businesses and not just those concerned with manufacturing.

" I also made the case for start-up grants which are not constrained by red tape. Small firms require hands on support in terms of finance and back-up. Rates Bills are the big issue for small business at this time. I lobbied Mr Pearson to abandon Mark Durkan's proposals to bring local rates into line with England. Such a scenario would cripple many local firms.

" The Vacant Property Rate needs to be given much more consideration and a period of extended consultation is required. Otherwise it will put developers off. Such a scheme must be linked to an incentive programme for regeneration and an appeals mechanism for those who wish to rent their property but who cannot find a tenant. There is no doubt that those who are land banking vital town areas need to be pressed into developing it.

" I pointed out to Mr Pearson that the proposals he inherited from Sean Farren would lead to water charges, increased rates, an end to industrial de-rating, rates on vacant property, and tolls. All this will inevitably lead to small businesses closing and resultant job losses." ENDS

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