Progress has been made in the UK this week with regard to one of the two hugely contentious issues of importance facing port operations and at least some clarification has arrived for the other.
‘Port based businesses, which have been lobbying for over a year against the unfair imposition of crippling backdated rates by the Government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA), are celebrating a major success for their cause, following Tuesday’s vote in the House of Lords, which accepted amendments to the Business Rates Supplements Bill. And yesterday the Government’s new Shipping Minister, Paul Clark announced the new rates for light dues for the next two years. The Business Rates Supplements Bill amendments, which were drafted by Andrew Finfer, a rating expert with Yorkshire law firm Schofield Sweeney, on behalf of the Humber Docks and Mersey Dock Rating Groups, accept the principle of no backdating without fault. Errors in rating evaluations should be borne by those responsible for the errors. There should be no backdating increase of business rates if the increase is not the fault of the business.