Amesbury Town Council votes to keep local community shop

AMESBURY’S community shop has been saved from the threat of closure after the town council agreed to pay its business rates.

The community shop, at The Old Forge Shop in Stonehenge Walk, opened in November 2009 and serves as an information point for local groups and charities, as well as hosting the mayor’s weekly surgery and giving craftspeople a venue to sell their work.

It is run by volunteers and is being increasingly used by the community.

However, its future looked uncertain after the shop received a £7,361 annual bill for business rates.

No money had been budgeted for the bill and at its meeting last Tuesday, the council was asked to consider its options.

The meeting heard that although the shop doesn’t generate revenue it is not exempt from business rates.

Cllr Fred Westmoreland said: “What message does it send to Amesbury if we shut it now? Yes £7,000 is a lot of money when you haven’t got it but there are ways and means. The alternative would do a lot of damage. If we walk away from this, then we walk away from the town.”

Fellow Conservative Councillor John Noeken said “We run Amesbury on a shoestring compared to other towns and what people expect of us. This is an asset to the town. We should keep going.”

Councillors voted in favour of keeping the shop open and finding funds to pay its business rates.

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