Rates demand could put Pontefract restaurant out of business

Owners David and Jemma Ladwitch of the Pontefract Roast House, say they face closure months after opening because of a massive rates bill.
Owners David and Jemma Ladwitch of the Pontefract Roast House, say they face closure months after opening because of a massive rates bill.

A restaurant owner who opened his business just five months ago says he is already facing closure after being hit with a huge rates bill.

David and Jemma Ladwitch took over Pontefract Roast House on Market Place in September, ploughing the inheritance David received from his father’s death in March into the venture.

Owners David and Jemma Ladwitch of the Pontefract Roast House, say they face closure months after opening because of a massive rates bill.

Owners David and Jemma Ladwitch of the Pontefract Roast House, say they face closure months after opening because of a massive rates bill.

His father was in the food industry, having run a Wimpy burger bar, and he wanted to carry on his legacy.

But the couple were left dumbstruck after receiving a business rates bill to be paid immediately for more than £3,000, and around £1,000 a month thereafter. They say they are facing court action if the money is not paid.

At the moment, Mrs Ladwitch says the business is not even receiving takings of £1,000, a month. Frustratingly, she says the surrounding independent businesses are currently granted small-business relief, meaning they are exempt from paying such huge rates.

Mrs Ladwitch said: “The larger companies pay these rates but the little guys should not have to - they are squeezing us out. We know the council have cut the rates in Wakefield by a third for small businesses so they have more leeway than they tell us.

“We are considering closing our business and losing our dream to let David’s dad’s legacy live on. We feel as if we haven’t had support or help and Wakefield Council want to see great small independent businesses like ours fail.”

Neil Warren, chief finance officer at Wakefield Council, said the council business support team will be happy to work with Mr Ladwitch and say they understand the value of such businesses to the local economy.

But he added: “However, business rates for all local authorities are set by central government through the Valuation Office. We would strongly encourage occupiers with any concerns to contact the Valuation Office as soon as possible.”