Enforcement officers from the council attended the premises in august and removed goods in connection with business rate (NNDR) arrears dating back to when Jimmy’s started trading in 2014.
The council’s lead member for finance, Councillor Les Hamilton, said: “We have a legal duty to collect business rates. These help pay for essential local services.
“This is a very complex case. The proprietors of Jimmy’s restaurant have been actively and systematically avoiding payment of local taxation, and ignored our efforts to reach a reasonable accommodation regarding payment.
“We have appointed insolvency specialists Smith Williamson to pursue this. Smith Williamson are also working with a range of other parties who have been affected by the trading activities at the Jimmy’s premises, and have the specialist expertise needed.”
“It is regrettable that enforcement action has had to be taken, however, we have a legal duty to take robust action as a last resort when all other attempts to collect the unpaid taxes, including court proceedings, fail to get the necessary result.”
It is understood that Jimmy’s Restaurants, a chain of buffet-style restaurants serving cuisine from around the world owes in excess of £500,000 in business rates across the UK.
Of the chain’s 11 locations, at least six local authorities including Watford are owed money or have written off debts, with the restaurants continuing to trade, having been passed from the ownership of a now-liquidated company into the hands of a new one.
In Epsom, the restaurant is still open, but over the course of 2015 Epsom and Ewell Borough Council written off debts totalling £62,000 from the previous related company.
Bath and North East Somerset Council is owed £114,000 and Peterborough City Council is owed £95,000 out of pocket, and Spelthorne Borough Council is working with insolvency specialists to recover approximately £40,000 from the Staines restaurant.