Bad news for councils on business rates and empty properties

“Councils may be left unable to claim some £10m in business rates after Rossendale Borough Council lost a test case in the Court of Appeal over empty properties.

The case arose over property owners who lease unoccupied premises to another company which then becomes liable for business rates. The second company is then either voluntarily liquidated or struck off without liability for rates returning to the first company. …”

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/property/404-property-news/40072-court-of-appeal-blow-for-councils-over-business-rates-and-empty-properties

EDDC pouring £3m into new airport road

“The £3m scheme will provide sufficient access in order to develop the Airpark and will be forward funded by East Devon District Council.

The road that runs past Exeter Airport and down to Hampton by Hilton hotel is set to be widened – and will enable a new 17 acre business park to be built.

The Airpark – to be built next to the Flybe Hangar – is one of the four planned ‘Enterprise Zones’ – but the substandard nature of Long Lane and the limitations to current highway network are a direct barrier to it coming forward.

An enhancement scheme, which will see the widening of Long Lane from the Airport Terminal entrance, past the hangers and the FlyBe Academy/Hampton by Hilton hotel through to Harrier Court in the east.

While Long Lane is being widened, a new road to connect Silverdown Office Park to the FlyBe Academy access road, known as the “Silverdown Link”, will be built, and when the Long Lane works are finished, the Silverdown Link will become a permanent bus only link.

The cabinet on Wednesday night unanimously recommend to full council to borrow up to £3m against ring fenced business rate income to implement the scheme and enter in to a funding agreement with Devon County Council to deliver it. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/huge-plans-exeter-airport-road-2620576

Rural communities and elderly will be hard-hit by cashless society

As banks and cash machines are being closed in rural areas, and where broadband for internet banking may be poor, people will struggle:

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/mar/06/uk-cash-system-on-the-verge-of-collapse-report-finds?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“Flybe completes sale to Virgin-led consortium for £2.8m”

“Exeter-based regional airline Flybe has been bought by a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic.

Connect Airways, which consists of Virgin, Stobart Air and Cyrus Capital, paid £2.8m for the airline on Friday.

It now means that flights currently operated by Flybe will soon be taking off under the Virgin brand.

Cyrus Capital now own 40 per cent of the Exeter-based airline, with Virgin and Stobart acquiring a 30 per cent stake each.

Flybe tweeted about the takeover on Friday night: “Today’s confirmation of the sale of Flybe to Connect Airways secures an exciting future for our customers & employees as we continue to provide vital regional connectivity in the UK & beyond. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/flybe-completes-sale-virgin-led-2571675

“Ministers urged to provide rescue package for ailing high streets”

“The government should consider taxing online sales, deliveries or packaging and cutting property taxes for retailers as part of a package to help revive the UK’s ailing high streets, according to an influential group of MPs.

In a report published on Thursday, the housing communities and local government committee says local authorities need more help, including extra cash, to redevelop town centres. It also suggests an overhaul of planning regulations, including scrapping rules that allow developers to turn offices into flats without special permission.

Clive Betts MP, the chair of the committee, said it was likely that “the heyday of the high street primarily as a retail hub is at an end”. However, he added: “This need not be its death knell. Local authorities must get to grips with the fact that their town centres need to change; they need to innovate, setting out a long-term strategy for renewal, reconfiguring the town centre and finding new ways of using buildings and encouraging new independent retailers.”

Betts said dated planning policies and unfair business rates, which are a tax based on the value of property occupied by a business, were “stacking the odds against businesses with a high street presence and this must end”. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/21/ministers-urged-to-provide-rescue-package-for-ailing-high-streets

Flybe rejects second bid as too late

“Troubled Exeter-based regional airline Flybe has snubbed a rival rescue proposal from investors including US airline Mesa Air Group and backed by former Stobart boss Andrew Tinkler.

Shares in Flybe more than doubled to 2.9p as it confirmed the “highly conditional” approach from a consortium including Mesa Airlines of Arizona and South African hedge fund Bateleur Capital.

But Flybe said it “does not believe that the indicative proposal is executable in the timeframe required to enable Flybe to continue to trade”.

It added it continues to back the existing takeover by the Connect Airways consortium – which consists of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and investment firm Cyrus Capital – as the “only viable option available to the company which provides the security that the business needs to continue to trade successfully”.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-47226619