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Chandlers Cross riding school may close after business rates more than triple
The owner of a Chandlers Cross riding school which has been providing lessons for almost 50 years fears he may be forced to close following a dramatic increase in business rates.
Chris Trigg, 55, took over the running of the family business, Coltspring Riding School on Sarratt Road, 40 years ago and has been fuelling children’s love of equestrian pursuits ever since.
Until August, the riding school paid £5,000 in annual business rates but according to Mr Trigg a review by the Inland Revenue decided he was significantly underpaying.
In addition to the increased rate, charges have been backdated to 2010 leaving him with a bill of £17,000 per year - almost £1,500 per month.
Mr Trigg says he is in little doubt that he will go out of business if he is forced to pay the increased amount.
He said: "We have been here since 1965 and over the years we have been through a lot but this will put us out of business.
"They were undercharging us because they have failed to do their jobs properly but it’s our fault apparently. They messed up and now I have got to pay for it.
"I have offered to show them my bank accounts and prove the money they are after doesn’t exist but they say that’s not an excuse and if I didn’t pay, they would send round the bailiffs to remove what they can and then put a clause on it so if I ever sell the business I have to pay them the rest of the money.
"If I close the school down I get three months’ leniency before I have to start paying again."
Mr Trigg said the only way to raise the money would be to increase the amount of time the horses work by such an extent it would become cruel.
He said: "Even if there was enough interest in riding lessons to make that kind of money the horses cannot do that amount of work.
"I could be arrested but the Government is telling me to make the money."
Although Three Rivers District Council is responsible for collecting the rates, the amount each business is charged is set by the Inland Revenue.
A Three Rivers spokesman said: "Mr Trigg may consider making an appeal against the Inland Revenue's decision.
"We have agreed for Mr Trigg to spread the payments over as much time as we are able, to make them less onerous."
Mr Trigg said he has appealed against the rate rise but is still waiting to hear the outcome.