Golf club owner says he’s prepared to go to jail over business rates

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 26, 2021 07:04

The owner of a golf course venue in Coventry has said he is prepared to go to jail over the issue of the business rates he has to pay.

Last year an independent report found huge disparities in the business rates golf clubs pay – ranging from £26 to £88 per member – and this led to particular criticism as golf clubs’ rateable value has been linked to coronavirus support.

Now, Rick Cressman, owner of Nailcote Hall, a four-star hotel, spa and golf course, says he is taking a stand.

While the business rates he has to pay has been reduced significantly since the pandemic started, it’s still a five figure amount and, as a percentage of turnover, nearly four times higher than what Amazon has to pay.

He’s called for the system to be scrapped and replaced with something ‘fairer’.Mr Cressman rescued Nailcote Hall out of administration 30 years ago and has built it up as a successful leisure business, but he says he has huge bills to pay just as he’s trying to get the business back up and running. He also believes the system is “unfair”.

He said: “It is a difficult time for everyone in hospitality – we have really been hammered to hell.

“My business is £750,000 more in debt now than a year ago. The government has supported my staff but not my business.

“By not operating I am losing £1,250 every day and we have several weeks until we fully reopen.

“It is only in July when we can hopefully start trading properly.”

He said he owes more than £30,000 in business rates.

Nailcote Hall. Image from Facebook

He is calling for business rates to be waived completely right now and for a fairer system to be put in place in the long term.

His main bone of contention is that business rates are calculated according to property value rather than a business’s turnover.

“I am pretty angry,” he said.

“Our business rates a year ago were around £100,000 out of a turnover of £2.8m.

“That means that 3.5 percent of every pound we earned went out the door in business rates.

“We are being asked to provide a third of our normal business rates but that is still 1.2 percent of turnover. Amazon pay 0.37 percent in business rates.”

He added: ““This out-of-date property-based system is completely not fit for purpose.

“It is not the bricks and mortar which enables companies to pay bills but the business they do.

“A third of a bill of something as big as that is still a lot of money.

“Until they change the system the chancellor should really have eliminated business rates this year and get a sensible system in place.

“What I’m saying is make it fair or I am not going to pay you,” he said.

“I don’t want to say no but as long as it’s unfair, I’m sorry I’m not paying you.

“I’m prepared to sit here and say if you want to sue me then sue me, if you want to send bailiffs to Nailcote Hall send them in, if you want to take me to court do so, if you want to send me to prison then so be it.

“Sending a businessman who is almost 70 years, who has paid £20m over the last 30 years to the Treasury to prison? I think I would actually have a lot of support.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 26, 2021 07:04
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