A legal loophole allowing a multinational technology retailer to legitimately avoid paying business rates should be closed immediately.
That’s the message from Canterbury City Council in a letter to government ministers calling on them to change the law.
It is also writing to the board of DSG Retail Ltd demanding the company fulfills its moral obligations and honours the thousands of pounds in business rates it would have expected to pay for the large former Currys PC World site in Burgate at its junctions with Iron Bar Lane and Longmarket in Canterbury.
The mobile phone and computer giant has given over its premises to Computers 4 Africa allowing it to claim relief on its business rates bill even though the charity has only used the premises for six days since October 2017.
From August 2016 to March 2019, DSG would have expected to pay more than £268,000 in business rates. So far the council has received £222.19 with another £111.84 expected this month.
Canterbury City Council Deputy Chief Executive Tricia Marshall said: “We are calling on the directors of DSG to examine their collective conscience and cough up.
“If helping Computers 4 Africa is not just a clever wheeze, the cheque will arrive at our offices and we can use our part of that cash to fund vital services at a time when our budgets are being squeezed.
“If it helps, we would be more than willing for Computers 4 Africa to use our premises for free for people to drop off computers etc. In fact, those making a donation can park for free at our offices in Military Road.
“On top of all that, the former store is now looking like a complete eyesore in a historic part of the city that attracts tourists from all over the world.
“We would be more than happy to work with DSG to put up window displays promoting the attractions the city has to offer with the help of the Canterbury Connected Business Improvement District (BID).”