A BOWNESS motor parts dealer has said high business rates in South Lakeland are driving firms like his away.

Stephen Meeson, owner of Car Mania, claimed there would be ‘no traders left’ if the level of rates was not reduced.

“Something needs to happen because there’s not going to be anyone left,” said Mr Meeson. “It doesn’t stack up at all.

“People are expected to pay the same prices they were in the boom, only now there’s been a recession.”

He spoke out after Motorworld, a business he formerly managed, said high business rates were a factor in its decision to quit Windermere.

Now a question mark hangs over the future of the Motorworld’s site, which Mr Meeson said he had hoped to take over to expand his own business.

Mr Meeson, who managed Motorworld for 11 years, opened Car Mania in Bowness four years ago.

He currently runs and works in the business alone, with only occasional casual workers, but would like to relocate to the Motorworld premises and offer more services. If this happened he would be able to create several full-time, permanent positions.

“Surely it’s better for businesses to thrive,” he added.

“But it’s the same story everywhere — Kendal too. Rates are just too high.”

A spokesman for South Lakeland District Council said rates payable at the site would total £7,917 per year and that the level was set by central government.

“The rateable value is determined by the Valuation Office Agency, an organisation responsible to central government,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Motorworld said the business was pulling out of South Lakeland after 20 years because of high business rates, dwindling sales and high rent.

“It’s the increasing rates and decreasing sales,” she said.

“It’s a tourist area so rents and rates are just really high.”

The business will be gone by the end of the month, resulting in ‘two or three’ people losing their jobs, the spokeswoman added.