‘Battle residents need to access cash machines’

View from Battle Abbey towards Battle High Street. SUS-170419-104759003
View from Battle Abbey towards Battle High Street. SUS-170419-104759003

Rother District Council is to consider waiving business rates on ATMs where they are the last remaining within a community, following a meeting this week.

At a full council meeting on Monday (December 17), Rother councillors unanimously backed a motion calling on the council ‘to give serious consideration to granting business rate relief to external ATMs where the machine is the only one in the high street.’

The motion had been put forward by Liberal Democrat councillor Kathryn Field – who proposed it following the loss of the last external ATM in her Battle ward – but passed with the backing of all members following a Conservative amendment.

Cllr Field said: “The background to this, as I’m sure most of you will know, is that Battle no longer has an external ATM. Battle has 6,500 residents and this facility is much missed.

“A lot of people are resistant to paying with cards and a lot of shops have a minimum card insertion spend of £5, which means if you are going to have to pay by card you have to pay contactless. A lot of residents do not like using contactless.

“There is a need for an external ATM in town. I am inundated with people asking what am I going to do about it.”

Following requests from residents, Cllr Field said she had spoken with a business owner about changing their internal ATM to an external ATM. The business owner was supportive of the idea but said the business rates would cost more than the commission received, Cllr Field said.

Cllr Field said: “If the drawback to an external ATM is that you have got to pay business rates then I think we should have a policy which says, where the ATM is the last one in town it should be business rate free.

“It shouldn’t be detering small shops from having a very useful facility.”

While the motion received cross-party support, Conservative councillor Simon Elford (Bexhill St Michaels) asked for it to be amended in light of an on-going court case on the issue.

Cllr Elford said: “There is not much to disagree with in the motion. We see that in Battle there is a big problem there with not having ATMs.

“I am under the understanding at the moment that the Valuation Office Agency is currently fighting a court case [on this issue].

“They have just lost their latest appeal in which they would no longer be able to charge business rates for ATMs. They have gone to the Supreme Court and they are waiting to see if they are allowed to have an appeal at the Supreme Court.”

In light of this court case, Cllr Elford said he would want to add an amendment to the motion, making it subject to the outcome of the VOA’s appeal.

The amendment was accepted by Cllr Field and was passed in an unanimous vote.