A RAWTENSTALL trader, who has poured his life savings into his business, has closed it down as he can't afford to keep it running.

Nate Nicholson, owner of The Deli in Bank Street, said while attempting to rescue the business, he worked seven days a week and didn't take a holiday in three years.

But he said 'extortionate business rates' of around £1,125 per month and £6,000 to £7,000 in rent payments per month had taken their toll.

Mr Nicholson, who has run the business for seven years, said: “The business rates were extortionate.

“They differ from street to street in Rawtenstall, so rival businesses are paying completely different rates and it’s killing companies off.

“When I spoke to the council about it, they’ve told everyone on Bank Street to appeal to the Valuations Office Agency, but I did that two weeks ago and have heard nothing back.”

Mr Nicholson organised the first LGBT night in Rawtenstall, the first in Rossendale, in February.

He said: “I’ve made some really good friends and will really miss the customers.

“I haven’t made a wage in seven years and my health has suffered. I can’t keep doing this just to pay other people’s wages.

“When we took it on, Bank Street was a thriving business centre, but in recent years the number of shops has seriously depleted.

“Unless you want to buy spectacles, get your hair done or go to the estate agents, or go to a charity shop then you don’t go there.

“I feel bad for the businesses left there because people have told me they won’t go back now we’ve closed.” David Gould, the chairman of Rawtenstall Chamber of Trade, said: “I’ve bought lunch from there for many years. It’s a great business and it’s very sad to see it close.”

Mike Jones, director of Weale and Hitchen Estate Agents in Bank Street, said: “It’s really sad that they’ve closed. They’ve worked their socks off to stay open.”

Phil Seddon, Head of Finance and Property Services at Rossendale Council, said: “Business rates payable by a commercial organisation are set by the Valuations Office Agency. The council would advise any business, in the first instance, to lodge an appeal directly with the VOA if it feels their rateable value has been set too high.”