The owner of a hairdressing salon which was forced to close after nine years has described the rates rise as “the final straw that broke us”.
Geraldine Lawless pulled down the shutters on her business, Short Cutz 2 Beauty, at Scotch Street on Saturday.
Her rates bill had risen by 87.5 per cent which, along with rent and other overheads, proved too much to sustain.
She said the closure had been “heartbreaking” for both her and the other staff and said some of her older customers, who viewed their visits as “a real treat and social occasion” had cried.
She added, “We have spent time and investment training staff and valued ourselves in excellent customer service and a family friendly atmosphere. It was a service that Scotch Street will miss.
“We had excellent staff and we tried all avenues to put this day off but unfortunately we had no other option.
We had excellent staff and we tried all avenues to put this day offGeraldine Lawless
“Small business like ours have been struggling with crippling charges for water, electric, insurance, music licenses, PAYE, loss of statutory sick pay reimbursement etc.”
Mrs Lawless was among a delegation from Portadown Chamber of Commerce and local councillors who recently met with Finance Minister Simon Hamilton to discuss the rates rise in rural areas.
She has thanked her loyal customers as well as MLA Jo-Anne Dobson and Deputy Lord Mayor Catherine Seeley who had also lobbied DEL Minister Stephen Farry.
Meanwhile, at Monday’s night’s meeting of the ABC Council, councillors called for an impact assessment of the rates re-evaluation.
They said they had logged hundreds of complaints from various individuals and businesses who had had “astronomical” rates rises.