THE council missed out on more than £30,000 in business rates after a company had operated in Lower Earley without the authority’s knowledge for almost eight years.

More than £65,000 was owed to Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) and the government by Regis UK Ltd, which had occupied the hairdressing salon shop at 12 Chalfont Way, Lower Earley, since October 2010.

Despite this, the council was unaware of the company’s occupation until June 2018 and bills for business rates for the last eight full years were issued shortly after.

But the business went broke in October 2018 and failed to pay any of the bills issued by the council.

Sarah Hollamby, Director for Locality and Customer Services at WBC,said: “Landlords should inform local authorities if they have any other businesses operating on their premises. This didn’t happen in this case and as the landlord was paying its rates for eight years we weren’t aware of this business. Its existence came to light when the landlord asked for a rates revaluation. But we couldn’t recover the outstanding liability because the business was insolvent.”

This debt was just one of four from accounts which have now been written off by executive member for finance councillor Anthony Pollock.

Business rates totalling £272,688 were owed by borough enterprises but WBC will now not receive just under half of this after Cllr Pollock confirmed the move, with the government missing out on the other 51 per cent.

This means the council will not see £133,617 in unpaid business rates come its way.

One company which found itself in more than £1.1 million of debt owed £83,000 after moving in and out of offices at Sage House in Winnersh four times in the space of just 14 months.

WBC was informed of all of Complete Mobile Marketing Ltd’s movements between March 2017 and May 2018 and demand notices were sent for all periods of occupation.

Legal proceedings were taken for the first three instances of of occupation and enforcement action was later taken, but still no payment was received from the company as the organisation went into liquidation in August 2018.

Consumer Helper Ltd owed £53,402 for the two years from 2016-2018 after failing to pay the council despite an enforcement agent taking action to demand payment from the company.

No payments were received from Consumer Helper Ltd, however, after the organisation was listed as having only £1 in assets.

This was also the case for Marshall Parks Ltd, which failed to pay sums totalling more than £70,000 after leasing a property at Trinity Court, Molly Millars Lane, Wokingham in June 2016.

Enforcement action was again taken to recover money owed but by the time WBC had learned the company had been dissolved, it had already learned two new companies were now leasing the Trinity Court property.

A report produced for the council read: “The write off of non-collectable debts ensures that the council ledgers are accurate and up to date.

“The debts to be written off is in respect of business rates. Any debt written off has a financial impact as the council incurs 49% of the loss.

“As at the end of February 2019 the business rate collection was 98.19 per cent against the month end target of 96.51 per cent.”