Campaigning by independent surveyor Nolan Redshaw and Rossendale-based developer Boys has resulted in a question being raised in the House of Commons in objection to empty rates by the MP for Bolton, David Crausby.
Crausby asked the House: "Empty property rate relief was introduced in entirely different circumstances, so will my hon. friend not at least consider relaxing the rules during the economic downturn in order to prevent the wholesale demolition of perfectly good industrial premises, particularly the old cotton mills of the North West of England?"
John Healey, minister of state at the department for communities and local government replied: "There is no systematic evidence of what my hon. friend describes as wholesale demolition of empty business properties. Some examples have been thrown up by local councils and the British Property Federation. We are looking at those as part of the general picture on how the changes are working, and will take them into account. As we do so, we will take any necessary decisions. I do not want to raise expectations, but those who followed the legislation will know that there is provision for the Government to reduce the level of tax, should it be required, and introduce a level of relief. However, we are looking carefully at how the process is working and will continue to do so with the Valuation Office Agency and with local government."
Boys and Nolan Redshaw sent numerous open letters to the Government objecting to empty rates and inviting ministers to attend a meeting to hear the true effect such taxes will have on property in the North West. The Government declined the invitation.
Mike Redshaw of Nolan Redshaw said: "Brian Boys has done a fantastic job in raising the awareness of this vital issue and we have helped all we can in getting the support of the local government. It is now time for the RICS to put as much pressure on the Government as possible to ensure that this important issue is not put to the bottom of the pile."