A BUSINESSMAN is threatening to shut down his operations in West Dunbartonshire and move to Helensburgh in a row over council fees.

Alan Arthur says West Dunbartonshire Council ‘kicked him in the stomach’ by demanding £1,423 up front for a three-year, second hand trader licence for his new antiques business at Lomondgate in Alexandria.

Mr Arthur, who opened Ben View Antiques just before Christmas, is furious, not just at the demand for the three-year fee in one payment but, by the “ridiculously high” amount in comparison with what is charged by other councils

In a Facebook post shared with the Reporter, Mr Arthur points out that in Argyll and Bute, less than two miles away from his current base, the charge would be £414 reducing by a third each year.

In Falkirk the charge, he says, would be £255 for three years and Stirling Council would charge £132 a year.

He said: “So we want to promote local businesses and start-up? I dont think so WDC, that’s a joke.

“The prices in West Dunbartonshire are shocking in comparison with other council areas.

“I opened Ben View Antiques two days before Christmas and it was well received, but there is no flexibility with the council whatsoever.

“They said it’s too much to administer on a yearly basis. I am being crippled because the fees are absolutely astronomical.

“Now I am considering moving to Argyll and Bute, not as a dogmatic approach but as a point of principle.

“I am all for paying a licence fee as long as it’s in proportion.

“I also had intended to open another premises selling modern used second hand furniture however due to having to need another licence this has been scrapped which also means my intentions of employing staff locally have gone as well.

Mr Arthur also owns Lomond Sheds, located at Lomond trade centre in Alexandria.

He said: “I rent three industrial units from the council and have a staff of five, but now I may move all of my businesses to Argyll and Bute Council area in protest at what I see as commercial discrimination.”

Damon Scott, chief executive, Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We would be concerned if businesses were less competitive and attracted to other areas as a result of higher operating costs in Dunbartonshire.

“We want Dunbartonshire to be an area that is attractive to business and one where private enterprise can thrive.

“As a chamber we work hard to support our members to this end via a range of events, through our chamber academy as well as representing their interests on both locally and nationally.

“We also work closely with partners in both private and public sector towards shared goals to benefit business.”

The council said: “West Dunbartonshire Council has to ensure that licensing fees cover the cost of regulating each particular activity.

“Following a full fee review and report to the licensing committee in 2014, fees for second hand dealers were set.

“These have been subject to a percentage increase each year in accordance with council decisions.”