COUNCIL bosses have been accused of kicking small businesses while they are down after landing several with a £2,300 service charge out of the blue.
Business owners and shop managers from the Riverside Precinct, off Corporation Street, were stunned when a letter from Rotherham Borough Council landed on their doorstep this week demanding service and maintenance costs of 2008/09.
Angry shop owners described the bill as a sickener and said that the unexpected expense could lead to shop closures.
The council’s bill for £18,609—to be split between the precincts eight businesses—includes a staggering £10,369 in administration fees and traders claim that they have seen no evidence that £8,000 had been spent on the shopping area in recent years.
In fact many claim that a lack of maintenance had seen the public put at risk due to exposed electrical wiring, uneven paving and walkways which are plunged into darkness at night due to faulty lighting.
This week a spokeswoman for the borough council said that the authority was aware of the concerns of traders within the Riverside Precinct and had received representations in respect of the amount of service charge.
She added: “We appreciate their concerns, but the authority’s bill of £18,609 for the whole complex, comprising eight trade units, is the actual expenditure incurred by the authority for the 2008/09 period, including general repairs and maintenance, electrical works, insurance premiums, general cleaning and management fees.
“We understand that in the past the tenants were billed for a total cost of £13,560.
“However, further consideration is being given to some elements of the charge and will be discussed with tenants when completed.”