ANOTHER shop on Witney High Street may be forced to relocate as soaring business rates continue to threaten independent traders.

John Saunders, who owns Witney Sewing and Knitting Centre, said the rise in rates could force him and his wife to move the business out of town.

Despite the pressure, he remained defiant and said the business would carry on regardless.

The comments come just over a week after Renaissance vintage clothes shop closed its doors as a result of rising rates.

Many independent business owners in the town have spoken out about the extreme pressure they have been under since rates rose last April.

Mr Saunders said the rates for the sewing centre, which has been operating in High Street for 12 years, had more than doubled since 2014, when rates cost £4,400.

He said the full brunt of the rise was not felt last April due to relief funding which has this month stopped.

The business must now pay out £10,440 a year.

Mr Saunders said: “Last year they gave us relief in different ways and it was £7,000 – and I thought that was extortionate.

“Now it’s £10,440. How they worked this out I don’t know. I couldn’t get hold of anybody who could have a reasonable conversation about it.

“We might have to move somewhere else but we don’t want to.”

He said that working with such significant outgoings could make some business owners feel like it was not worth the effort.

Mr Saunders continued: “If I was the sort of person who sat down and worked every penny out I might draw the conclusion that it was a waste of time.”

But, despite still grappling with the increased payments, he remained defiant.

He said: “It’s a good business and we enjoy running it. And the people in Witney are great.

“We support the town and get penalised for it. We will carry on whatever at this point in time but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight the powers at be for strangling us.”

The award-winning shop employs six staff.

Eighteen months ago it moved across the road into a larger premises but remained in High Street.

It comes as the number of independent businesses in Witney falls.

Last month Jeanne Chattoe, owner of Renaissance vintage clothes shop in Wesley Walk, was forced to close her shop after 15 years.

She had, since business rates rose last April, warned that the impact could have devastating consequences.

Businesses closing in the town last year included The Laughing Stock joke shop and Domino Menswear.

Ian Pilcher, who worked at Domino – which has moved to Abingdon – for more than 30 years, said at the time of the store’s closure that the once vibrant town had been on the decline ever since the financial crisis of 2008.

Business rates are worked out based on a property’s ‘rateable value’.

This is its open market rental value on April 1, 2015, based on an estimate by the Valuation Office Agency.