Anger as city's pet stores face licence fee rise of up to 200%
PET shops in Derby have reacted angrily to news that their annual licence charges will rise by up to 200% as part of a city council overhaul of fees.
The changes will affect the city's nine shops that sell animals and any new business that wants to do the same.
They currently pay £110 to get or renew a licence but will now find the costs rise to up to £330.
The city council says the move is to bring the licence-to-operate fees for pet shops in line with the true amount they cost the authority to process.
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But pet shop owners have said the move could not have come at worse time as their businesses are being hit by the economic downturn.
Gavin Chambers, owner of Chambers Pet Centre, in London Road, Alvaston, called the charges "another stealth tax".
He said: "200% just isn't realistic. Right now most retailers are really struggling with costs rising across the board.
"This will put other people off opening a pet shop as well so it's not good for the city's economy."
Helen Tomlinson, joint-owner and manager of Supapet, Osmaston Road, said she was disappointed the council had not contacted her about the changes. She said: "It's some increase. Animal welfare is our top priority and the cost of looking after them properly is rising. This is not the time for this."
The licence fee changes were confirmed at a meeting of the city council's general licensing committee on Thursday night. Animal boarding and horse riding centres will also be hit by the same increase.
Councillor Barbara Jackson, chairman of the licensing committee, said that any licences related to animal welfare had previously been subject to "an inflationary increase only".
She said: "The licensing of animal welfare is neither straightforward nor simplistic and there is an increased level of officer involvement in terms of site visits before a licence or renewal of a licence can be issued in addition to spot checks which are conducted by officers throughout the period of a yearly licence. This is the reasoning for the recalculation of the fees within this area."
Other businesses requiring licences, such as pubs, off-licences and casinos, will see their fees go up by 3% to "reflect inflation".