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OPINION: Andrew Rosindell, MP For Romford

PUBLISHED: 11:31 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:31 20 March 2017

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We must defend our horse riding tradition

It may come as a surprise to people outside of Havering, but Romford has a proud tradition of horse riding with many riding stables and livery centres located in the borough, especially in Havering-atte-Bower, where they form an intrinsic part of our community.

This is not something the Valuation Office Agency seemed to have taken into account, with its proposals that will force business rates up putting riding stables in jeopardy.

Every year, I attend Horseman’s Sunday on the Village Green at Havering-atte-Bower, where horses from all the local stables come out for a special service outside St John’s Church and where we give thanks for the part that the horse has played in the history of England. I read a poem “The Horse” and present rosettes to all the beautiful horses and their dedicated owners.

It’s a wonderful occasion and shows just how important horses are to our country and community. So, you can imagine how concerned I was when news came through that riding stables could be at risk due to new business rates. Along with many of my parliamentary colleagues, I called for the wholesale review of business rates proposals which threaten future of our equine industry.

Concerns that have been raised by the British Horse Society (BHS) and Countryside Alliance showed that the amount that riding schools and livery yards pay in business rates could go up by 300 per cent.

Our pleas were heeded to an extent, in the spring Budget last week when the chancellor announced that additional schemes for relief would be made available to help support small or rural businesses and pubs.

However this is a temporary solution and does not address the long term problem of business rates on stables. Businesses in rural areas play an important part of the economy so we must adopt a system that recognises their special place in rural communities like Havering-atte-Bower and which enables them to survive and flourish.

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