A businessman has won a David versus Goliath battle against authorities who wrongly ordered him to pay thousands of pounds extra in business rates.
Sanjay Chohan, of Longridge, owns Discount Auto Spares, on Cemetery Road, Ribbleton, Preston. He discovered he was being charged more than much larger national car dealerships in the area – despite rates payments being calculated on on garage size and location.
This has ruined my life for the past year but I wasn’t going to be bulliedSanjay Chohan
He fought against the fees and finally had it confirmed at a tribunal in Manchester that he was being overcharged.
He said: “This has ruined my life for the past year but I wasn’t going to be bullied.”
In 2011, Mr Chohan converted a builder’s yard to extend his family’s garage with economical materials.
The 37-year-old was then due to have the rateable value of his business re-assessed.
He was “shocked and amazed” when the valuation came back from Preston Council, on the recommendation of the Valuation Office Agency, three years later. He was then faced with paying £15,000 for the past three years, plus more than £5,000 a year more than he had been paying before in rates.
Mr Chohan said: “I tried to tell the VOA but they wouldn’t listen so I was determined to fight the case.
“This has been 12 months of stress and sleepless nights, but it felt good to be treated like a human being at the tribunal rather than a case number.”
Preston Council, which is the collection agent and does not set the rates, did not want to comment.
A spokesman for the VOA said: “We cannot comment on individual cases. The Valuation Office Agency sets the rateable value for non-domestic property. This is based on the open market rental value of the property as at the valuation date of April 1, 2008.
“Local councils calculate the bill based on this rateable value. If a ratepayer thinks their rateable value is not a fair reflection of the rental value, they should contact us to discuss it.”