SHOPPERS heading to a town-centre furniture shop this week were greeted by locked doors and large signs blaming the council for “working against business”.
Amore, in Corporation Street, has been closed since Saturday, and owner Mark Iuge claims high taxes and tougher parking regulations have forced him to shut down an otherwise thriving business.
The signs read: “New traffic scheme means we can’t load. Bolton Council committed to closing local stores. Business rates now £600-a-week.”
Mr Iuge opened the store in May last year, but he claims a council crackdown on parking outside the shop has seen him stung with up to £200 in parking fines per day.
This, coupled with what he says are high business rates, have forced him to close the shop, resulting in the loss of four jobs .
Mr Iuge, aged 40, has been in business for 20 years and claims he paid the same amount in rates, which are set by central government, for his 3,000 sq ft Bolton town centre store as he does for another shop he owns — a 15,000 sq ft former Asda superstore in Accrington.
He said: “We used to be able to park delivery vans outside the store for unloading furniture, but they stopped that about four or five months ago.
“The council said we could use parking bays around the corner, but if you’re there more than 10 minutes you get a parking ticket.
“The council and Government between them are pushing us out of Bolton.
“They’re going to end up with rows of empty shops and everyone says its the recession but it’s not true, it’s business rates.”
A Department for Communities spokesman said the Government had doubled small business relief in April to an average of £1,650 for a period of two-and-a-half years and had given councils the power to offer additional local discounts to firms.
A council spokesman said there had always been restrictions in Corporation Street.
He added: “After repeated requests from local businesses, the council introduced a new traffic restriction order preventing traffic from using the area between 9.30am and 5pm and has been enforcing this order when necessary.”
He added that businesses can use loading bays in nearby Knowsley Street and Bridge Street.