SHOPS and businesses in Ludlow do not have long to wait to see if they will get any relief on crippling business rates.

Following a visit from a valuation officer earlier in the year, Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow, says he expects an announcement within the next few weeks.

Ludlow’s Chamber of Trade has warned about the impact of the changes that would mean a much bigger bill for some businesses in the town. It is hoped that as a result of the visit Ludlow traders will get an early Christmas present.

“I arranged for the Chief Valuation Officer for England to visit Ludlow in the summer to hear for herself the impact of some of the proposed increases and I have recently heard back that she expects shortly to complete her review of the rating structure applied locally, so I hope to be able to inform businesses affected in the next few weeks,” said Philip Dunne.

Ludlow Chamber of Trade had hoped that following a visit by the Valuation Officer a decision would have been known by now.

The Chamber says that the town’s independent shops are under pressure with Business Rates an important issue..

Tish Dockerty, secretary of the Chamber has set out the issues.

“There was little or no increase in the rental values of local shops between 2008 and 2015, which are the relevant valuation years,” Tish Dockerty said following the visit by the valuation officer.

“Indeed, we have seen the closure of a number of shops and pubs, and the disappearance of all three of our Michelin starred restaurants in the last decade.”

She said that the arrival in the town of national outlets has resulted in an artificial picture of the state of the town centre.

“However, the influx of national chains which arrived in the latter half of that period have artificially inflated the apparent rental values of surrounding shops,” Tish Dockerty added.

“There is clear disparity between different roads in the town and the shops that have been hit hardest are those flagship stores, positioned in prominent locations, present for many years.”