A city centre café set up to champion local businesses will serve its last coffee tomorrow afternoon as its owner said the rise in rates has forced him to close.

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Union Yard tea and coffee bar on the corner of Surrey Street and St Stephens Street in Norwich was opened in January this year by Cringleford couple Steven and Hannah Winter, both 31, after they spotted a gap in the market for an independent café serving local produce.

But now Mr Winter, who is a bakery consultant, says he can no longer afford to pay the rising business rates, set by central government, and the rent which he says would total almost £50,000 per year.

The former city college student said the loss of the 50 sqms shop, managed by Joe Trewellard, is “very sad”.

With four staff employed, My Winter says bride-to-be Sarah Gowing, 29, and Max Sturman, 23, would be out of work come tomorrow.

He said: “We wanted a few of these [coffee shops], and could have employed five or six people in each shop, and now we have to lose jobs.”

Mr Winter says the combination of rising business rates – taxes which are charged on non-domestic properties like shops, offices and pubs – and a rental lease which would tie him in for another three years, is not something he is “setting myself up for”.

He said he “could not believe” business rates are continuing to rise in the recession. Last week it was announced that they are set to increase by a further 2.6pc.

But he emphasised “we are not a failing business”, with a new wholesale bakery, Bread Source, set to open in Horsham St Faith soon.

And he added: “I want to come back to the city, and we will come back.”

Don’t forget to buy the Evening News this week when we look at how other small Norwich businesses are coping in the economic climate.

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