Brian Madderson has urged retailers to help the industry challenge the Valuations Office Agency (VOA) over its 2010 Business Rates assessments. The

new head of the RMI Independent Petrol Retailers Association – formerly the PRA – said independents were fuming over the way the VOA had hiked up their rentable values and felt the sector had been "disproportionately burdened".

Madderson, who retired as managing director of Dover-based George Hammond plc to take up the post at the RMI last month, said there was still time to fight and make changes the system. Together with the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and UKPIA, Madderson said RMIP did not accept the scheme calculating the 2010 assessment and planned to challenge the VOA on its methodology and criteria.

Madderson said the main criticisms concerned the VOA "seriously overestimating" the average margin on fuel, the scrapping of the banding system on car washes to a broad brush approach of 20% of car wash turnover, and the new £2m cap on sales on the shop side of the business.

Retailer Brian Tew of the Simon Smith Group said: "Many of the figures from the VOA are just so outrageous. I think it is time for us as independents to take responsibility. I have appealed on my rateable values in the past and always got them down to fairly sensible values in the end."

Madderson added: "Many independents have already registered their objections but we believe it is important that we show a united approach by collating objections through a central point." With this in mind, the organisation has drawn up a document which retailers are urged to complete and return by December 11.

To obtain an Independent Forecourt Retailer Response Form from the RMIP email

For more details on the upcoming Business Rates, turn to our in-depth News Extra on page 10.