City tandoori owner tells of ‘hopeless’ struggle for coronavirus cash grant

Wali Ullah (right), owner of Spice Valley Tandoori, said he and his business partner Aydaur Rahman (

Wali Ullah (right), owner of Spice Valley Tandoori, said he and his business partner Aydaur Rahman (second from right), have been unable to apply for the government grant. Pictured, staff at the Magdalen Street restaurant. Photo: Wali Ullah - Credit: Archant

A city restaurant owner has told of a “hopeless” struggle to access the government virus business support grant after his premises were valued as ineligible for help.

Wali Ullah, owner of Spice Valley Tandoori, said he and his business partner Aydaur Rahman, have been unable to apply for the grant due to an ongoing battle over the Indian eatery’s rateable value.

Mr Ullah said the Magdalen Street restaurant was a ground floor site with a flat and office upstairs, which had been valued separately when it opened in 2018.

But Mr Ullah said last year they received a bill for the whole building - which they were told had a rateable value of £51,000.

“We tried to keep telling them about this and that our business is only downstairs,” he said.

Norwich City Council told the pair to talk to the valuation office agency (VOA) via HMRC.

Mr Ullah said: “They said to go online. I submitted everything and they said they would sort it out but they haven’t done.

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“When the pandemic started and support grants came through for businesses worth £15,000 to £51,000, we are not eligible as we are now outside that.”

He said the situation had left him feeling “hopeless” and he told the council they were “negligent”.

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“We have our suppliers and landlady asking for whether we have the grant,” he said.

“When we talk about this with the council they say they can’t do anything and to go to the VOA.

We are in a really hopeless place. I said ‘because of your negligence we are suffering’. This is not fair.”

Mr Ullah said he had contacted Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, and that his office had been in contact with the VOA.

“Nothing came out as they keep saying the same thing,” he added.

“We are facing a really big problem. My neighbour has already got the grant. Everyone except us has got it already.”

A spokesman for the VOA said: “We recognise this is a very challenging time for businesses. We are working hard to respond to queries as quickly as possible.”

He added: “The assessment of a property reflects its current purpose. If a ratepayer is making changes to the property which they believe will affect its rateable value, they will need to raise this through our check, challenge, appeal service. This will only be considered once work is underway or completed.”

Norwich city council declined to comment.

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