COUNCIL bosses have hit back at claims they are not doing enough to support and protect Uttoxeter businesses after a spate of vandalism attacks.
Overnight on Saturday, January 4, vandals smashed windows at Edmonston’s butchers, in the Maltings, and Uttoxeter Police Station.
A brick wall was also demolished in Trinity Square.
This led to business owners claiming firms in town are inadequately protected - a problem they claim is being exacerbated by the fact that 11 CCTV cameras are under threat.
East Staffordshire Borough Council, which operates the cameras, also came in for criticism for ‘failing to support’ business and retail in town.
However, the council has told the Post and Times it is doing enough to promote trade and protect shop owners.
It has also outlined it is not responsible for CCTV provision in the Maltings or setting business rates.
A council spokesman said: “We’re committed to supporting businesses in Uttoxeter and the surrounding areas.
“This commitment is demonstrated through the council’s business development fund, the development of Carters Square and, as recently announced, the availability of free parking on the outskirts of the town centre.
“The business development fund supports the local economy with financial assistance to help companies and entrepreneurs.
“So far, the Council has funded ten businesses to the tune of £100,000, enabling them to create over 40 new jobs, grow, expand and invest in the local area.
“In May 2013, the council announced development work at Carter’s Square had started.
“Despite the tough economic climate, the Council, alongside developers Lingfield, has worked tirelessly to ensure that this scheme got off the ground.
“It will provide an attractive link between a new open mall and High Street, increasing connectivity with car parks and homes in the town centre and increasing footfall.
“Despite suggestions from some business owners in recent newspaper articles, the council does not set the level of business rates. It merely collects them for Government.
“Each property has a rateable value which is set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).
Business rates ensure those who occupy business property contribute towards the cost of local services.
The Maltings is owned by MJ Barrett. If people are concerned about vandalism there, they will need to speak to the owner.”