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A non-profit amateur boxing club in Luton is facing closure as it struggles to cope with being hit by new business rates.

The Academy in New Bedford Road cannot register as a charity and avoid business rates because it is a member of the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA).

Until recently it was exempt from the council’s rates but must now pay £1,002 a month, dating back to February this year.

Spokesman Leeroy Jenkins said: “We are a non-profit boxing club for young kids, teaching them, getting them off the streets. No-one gets paid, our coaches work for free, and the council supported us in the past, using our club for a boxing event in the town centre. Being a member of the ABA means we are safeguarding the kids, adhering to their rules and regulations. But if you are part of the ABA you can’t register as a charity.”

Mr Jenkins, who is also vice chairman of Luton In Harmony, said the club could not afford to pay the rates and was at risk of having to close.

He said: “It’s disgusting. I know the council is stretched but this club is so important to the community.

“Through The Academy we’ve encouraged the kids to take on Luton In Harmony roles. Most were in gangs but now they are focusing on their boxing and have something to motivate them.”

A council spokesman said the new charges are due to a change in the club’s rateable value by government agency the Valuation Office.

 

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