Local billing authorities have cottoned on to a novel way to screw more rates out of retailers who have ATMs on their premises.

I’m not trying to scaremonger by saying that all local authorities will up their demands to all retailers with ATMs… but it appears to be happening to Suzar Chauhan, who runs Mini Superstore in Derby, and you can bet she won’t be the last.

She’s received a notice from Derby City Council telling her that she is now under a rate review due to the installation of a hole-in-the-wall NoteMachine ATM.

It’s a given that if her rates change direction they will only go up. Suzar’s had the machine for four years and fears the council may even backdate any extra rates it decides are due.

It hasn’t helped that NoteMachine put the cost of withdrawals up from £1.25 to £1.75 and then complained that her transaction level had dropped. Doh!

I put the query to my go-to chartered surveyor Ken Batty in Preston, Lancashire, who says it’s happening primarily in the London area as billing authorities look for ways to rob Peter to pay Paul. He says the cash machine itself isn’t rateable, but the space it occupies is. The agreed calculation is based on the number of transactions. It can be appealed, but Ken estimates that a surveyor’s fee would start at £200. As for Suzar, she can’t wait for next year when her contract with NoteMachine is up.