COUNCIL bosses in Wyre Forest are calling for a change in law to stop companies using ‘sharp practices’ to avoid paying business rates.

The authority has written to the Government asking their powers to collect unpaid debts are strengthened after being left with no choice but to write off almost £100,000 owed by a firm registered in Kidderminster.

Wyre Forest District Council unsuccessfully took a company called Worldmile Services Ltd to Worcester Magistrates Court in an attempt to recover the rates owed.

Worldmile had leased the former Woolworths building in Worcester Street, Kidderminster from owners Tavistock Estates Ltd in April 2016 but was dissolved 17 months later, leaving a debt of £98,000 in unpaid rates.

A spokesman for the council said the court ruled that, although the company registered with Companies House, the contrived circumstances of the firm meant recovery of the debt was impossible.

Cabinet members will discuss the full details of the case at a meeting on November 13 where they will be asked to formally write off the debt after all avenues to recover the money were exhausted.

Councillor Nathan Desmond, cabinet member for resources, said the authority successfully collected almost 98 per cent of the £30million worth of rates due last year.

He said: “We have a very robust process in place to collect business rates and will always explore every avenue open to us to recover debts.

“We were very disappointed the courts did not rule in our favour in the latest case. We firmly believe that it is not acceptable that companies use sharp practices to avoid paying business rates which they have a duty to pay.

“That is why we have made representation to government asking for changes to legislation as current court rulings are resulting in a significant loss of income to local government.

“We will continue to be proactive and lobby for legislative change. The need for change is more pressing with local government funding reforms in 2020, which will make the county council and district councils even more dependent on stable business rates income.”