BUSINESSES owe nearly £250,000 in unpaid rates to Bolton Council.

Town Hall chiefs have taken 71 businesses to court to try and reclaim some of the £235,520.50 owed in business rates.

Magistrates imposed liability orders on the businesses, which gives the council the power to use bailiffs to get the money.

But council chiefs have said bailiffs are used as a “last resort”.

Of the 71 businesses taken to court, 21 made arrangements to pay before the court case.

The money owed ranges from a few hundred pounds to more than £10,000.

The most owed by one individual business is £17,121.59.

Businesses owing money include takeaways, a post office, restaurants, shops, petrol stations, exercise centres and education centres.

It comes just three months after the council took 49 businesses to court in September to try and reclaim £253,430.29 in unpaid rates.

Three weeks ago, the council took 725 residents to court in an attempt to get them to pay £414,658.64 owed in unpaid Council Tax.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “The council collects business rates on behalf of the Government and is responsible for ensuring all businesses pay their contributions.

“If any business does not pay their rates on time, we will send reminders and offer them the opportunity to arrange a payment plan.

“We encourage businesses to contact us, either to arrange payment of the rates, or to provide any extenuating circumstances why they have not been able to pay.

“As a last resort, we will apply to the court for a Liability Order, which gives us the authority to engage bailiffs to recover the money.”

The council wants to encourage people struggling to pay their council tax bills to get in touch as they may be able to help.