Hitendra Patel rang about business rate relief for small businesses. His chartered surveyor told him he didn’t qualify as he has a double-fronted store with two store numbers and so “didn’t stand a chance” of qualifying as “small”.

He adds that all other stores on the parade at Harold Hill in Romford, Essex, have single-number addresses and pay only about £500-700 in rates. Hitendra pays £6,000.

He then went to a second surveyor on a no win-no fee basis and this prompted a visit from the valuation officer and his rateable value went UP to £13.5k, meaning he now has to pay £6,065. Remember that if you appeal, it can go either way, or presumably, stay the same.

It must depend on what the VO counts as a small business. (Hitendra doesn’t sell cigarettes, petrol or alcohol, but when trying to negotiate better banking rates his bank insisted his PayPoint turnover be included as part of his overall turnover. Ouch, that made him Big Business.)

On the same subject, congratulations to Ken Batty, the Preston chartered surveyor, whom I have often featured in this column for his outstanding work in the independent sector. Ken has been named by the independent Leaseholders Association in a list of its top 150 rating surveyors. These are the ones that have achieved the highest success rate in appealing clients’ rateable values.

Ken says that a lot of names are missing from the list and they are the ones that crop up time and again, ringing from call centres and promising you reductions.

The Leaseholder Association points out that cowboys will claim they have a high success rate, in which case you can check online to see if they are in the top 150. Go to www.leaseholdersunited.com/ViewPopup.aspx?PopupKey =Approved (Yes, it’s a mouthful but it could save you shedloads).