Chair of the committee Kath Ryall said: “These amounts are substantial. When we look at this in detail the background is not going to surprise anybody. Unfortunately, there are clearly businesses who see the root of dissolving their company as the mechanism of avoiding paying NNDR.
“There are lots of issues. Sometimes the landlord in the property is unaware of what is going on and whoever is running the property might be subletting it out without the landlord being aware. The issues are really bigger than we as a council can deal with. These are taxes which are owed by people and they need to be paid in order for fairness. t’s a lot of money but it’s a difficult problem to address.”
Businesses, which had their debts written off included Newport Hospitality Ltd, which operated in Dumbarton and owed £10,152 but has since dissolved. Dumbarton Car Repair, which has gone into liquidation according to the council report, features prominently in the list. The firm is said to have owed £6,241.19 in rates from 2011/12, £11,756.25 from 2012/13, is listed as owing £12,069.75 and £12,304.88 from 2013/14, and £6,681.15 from 2015/16. Xtreme Soccer in Castlegreen Street, Dumbarton, is listed as being £7,049 in the red in 2014/15 and £10,824 in 2015/16. A company in Clydebank, TFB (Furniture) Ltd, in Sylvania Way, hiked up the most debt, sitting at almost £50,000 in the red.
Dumbarton councillor George Black questioned: “How can a company over a five-year period rack up £50,000 of debt and how can a £50,000 debt be rendered as unrecoverable?” Councillor Ryall replied: “That company went into liquidation so at that point there’s very little that can be done.” He also raised concerns over failed companies springing back into life under a different name, adding: “When you see a company applying under a different name under the same principle alarm bells should be ringing.”
Last year, the Local Government Authority called for new powers to allow councils to suspend the licences of businesses failing to pay their rates, adding that under current laws authorities cannot refuse or suspend a premises licence for an outstanding business rate debt.