Dundee newsagent says council rates are forcing him to sell up

Saifal Zaveri behind the counter of his shop in Reform Street

A newsagent has said crippling council rates have forced him to sell up his shop in the city centre.

Saifal Zaveri, 36, who owns the News Shop in Reform Street with his wife Afsa, 30, said although business was good, high rates meant he couldn’t keep going.

Mr Zaveri described it as a vicious circle and said, although he was keen to stay in the street and invest in the business, the high rates had forced his hand. He said: “I am currently paying £12,500 a year in rates to the council.

“That level of rates mean we have to earn that amount before we make any kind of profit.

“Sadly, we have taken the decision to put the shop on the market.”

Mr Zaveri said he and his wife had run the business for six years.

In that time, he said he has seen the city council’s level of rates force other shops to close down.

He added: “If the council reduced the rates, more private businesses could afford to open in the street.

“More business here would mean that we could support each other and bring business to the street.

“The reason that charity shops are opening in the street is because they don’t have to pay rates.

“If we were to move a few hundred metres up to Bell Street, then we would not have to pay any rates either.

“We really want to invest in Reform Street but the council rates make that impossible.”

The newsagent claimed the council was more interested in developing the Waterfront than the city centre. He added: “We’ve been appealing to the council for years now to reduce the rates. We have tried to explain this would be a way to encourage more businesses to come to Reform Street.

“As it is, the street is dying on its feet — but the council doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it. If we paid less rates, we could also afford to employ other people to work in the shop.

“At the moment, we can only afford for the two of us to work here.”

Alastair Kirkwood, assessor for Tayside Valuation Joint Board, said: “The rateable values for retail premises in Reform Street have been assessed for the 2017 revaluation in line with current legislation and are generally lower than at the previous revaluation in 2010.

“All occupiers who wished to do so were able to appeal within the appropriate time scales and these appeals will be considered in detail as soon as possible.

“If occupiers have particular difficulties they should contact my office directly to discuss the situation.”