You would think that, when you install £5k-worth of CCTV to help control crime and add air-conditioning for the comfort of customers and staff, that it shouldn't be penalised by increased business rates.

The reality in Paul Fryer's case is that the rateable value at his Bodnant Convenience Stores at Towyn on the North Wales coast increased by £658. He had no idea that this would happen and, of course, the equipment providers didn't tell him. He has been attempting to appeal since 2006, a lot of it falling on deaf ears (Peter Mandelson's office didn't even bother to reply to a letter sent in 2009).

Meanwhile, he asked around other businesses in Towyn to see if they had been similarly charged for improvements, but none were aware of it.

"We are open from the end of February to the end of October when the holiday camps close. They are not taking into account that we close for four months of the year," Paul points out.

When Paul sent copies of his numerous letters to the authorities for the past four years, I rang my best contact in the chartered surveyor world, Ken Batty in Preston, Lancashire.

Ken confirmed that such equipment installation does increase business rates (a bit like improving your residential bricks and mortar, I suppose).

"There is an issue here," says Ken, "and government is currently considering the fairness of it. CCTV does help control crime. It is currently a 'named item', but it may come off next year."