Firm owner’s jail pledge over rates

Under Threat: Steve Argent of Matlock Design and Print may be forced to close his business and have his assets seized by bailiffs due to arrears with Derbyshire Dales District Council.
Under Threat: Steve Argent of Matlock Design and Print may be forced to close his business and have his assets seized by bailiffs due to arrears with Derbyshire Dales District Council.

A DEFIANT business owner says he is willing to go to prison over unpaid rates after launching a scathing attack on Derbyshire Dales District Council.

Steve Argent runs Matlock Design and Print Ltd on Steep Turnpike, but has fallen behind with his payments which culminated in a recent visit from bailiffs.

The 40-year-old has been allowed to keep the seized equipment- printing machinery worth about £40,000 – for the moment, but has been ordered to pay weekly payments of over £230 for the next seven weeks to clear his £1,850 debt.

The former NHS communications director ploughed his pension into opening the print shop. Amongst his customers is Matlock Town FC, for whom he prints the weekly programme.

He pays more than £400 a month in business rates, and £600 rent for the shop. But he directed his anger towards Derbyshire Dales District Council.

“It’s always difficult in your first year of a business and I’ve had no support- you don’t even get a wheelie bin for your business rates,” he explained.

“I started just over a year ago and I know I’m behind but the district council have been totally unhelpful. They know it would be difficult to pay, and I’m at the end of my tether.

“They only want to collect the money and give nothing in return. “I will gladly go to jail because of this, the attitude of the council stinks and they have done nothing to improve the town.”

In response to his claims, a council spokesman said: “Non-domestic rates, as they are technically known, are set by the Government according to a Government formula.

“The council has no say in how much business rates are, we just collect them and send them to the Government.”

The spokesman said he could speak to the council’s business advisor, and defended their position claiming economic development is one of their top priorities.