A NATIONAL campaign should be launched to save the high street by abolishing business rates, says the UK boss of a cashless banking platform.

John Attridge – who runs the Bournemouth-based UK operation of BBX – says Britain is the only country where businesses pay councils for anything other than basic utilities.

High business rates have been cited as one of the key problems for a string of high street retailers.

Administrators for Bournemouth-based Beales are preparing to close all its 23 stores. Mr Attridge said it was “scandalous” that Beales pays £440,000 a year in business rates for its Bournemouth store alone.

BBX, of Business Bank Exchange, turns spare goods and services into electronic currency. Mr Attridge said he had harvested feedback from his thousands of customers about the state of retail.

“The UK is the only country I work in – this includes Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, USA and Canada – where a council charges for anything other than the provision of services like garbage water and sewerage,” he said.

“I think we need a national campaign to get these removed.”

Business rates are set by national government but collected by local councils. BCP Council has said it could not grant Beales any relief on its rate bill without hitting vital services.

More than 50 leading retailers recently called on the government to reform the rates system in the next budget.

Mr Attridge said online competition, customer service, discounting and parking charges were all challenges to retail.

Customers still want to see and feel products and retailers needed to create the right environment for that, as well as offering good websites, he said.

He said stores needed to “up their game” in staff training and create an atmosphere where staff “genuinely enjoy coming to work” in order to improve customer service.

He said discounting could be the “biggest killer” and that “people do not even turn up to a sale unless it is 50-60 per cent off now”.