Fenstanton to be cut down to size for rate relief

THE ‘village’ of Fenstanton is set to be re-defined this evening – because too many people live there.

In order for businesses such as the village post office to qualify for rural rate relief, the settlement around them must have no more than 3,000 inhabitants.

But Fenstanton’s population has grown beyond that, so Huntingdonshire District Council will have to cut off part of the parish from what it defines as the ‘rural settlement’.

Few people are likely to notice, because the part that needs to be cut off to reduce the population is two miles away – and most people assume London Road, St Ives, is actually in St Ives.

This is not a fiddle to favour rural businesses, HDC insists. The law requires councils to identify ‘settlements’, which may or may not coincide with parish boundaries.

In Fenstanton’s case, it differs from the parish boundary by excluding the 166 properties off London Road, St Ives, in Elizabeth Court, Greenfields and Maytrees.

It means that, assuming HDC’s cabinet’s acquiescence this evening (Wednesday), qualifying rural shops and businesses will continue to be eligible to apply for certain mandatory and discretionary relief.

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“When the Government framed the legislation [a 1988 Act amended by further legislation in 1997], it said councils did not have to be bound by any of the traditional boundaries of parishes or wards,” the council’s head of customer services Julia Barber told The Hunts Post.

“It is what is deemed to be or known as a rural area – so it’s absolutely legitimate.”

HDC automatically grants rural rate relief to qualifying businesses without their having to apply for it, she added.