Birmingham Council’s leader Mike Whitby is set to join the Conservative fightback against the hated empty rates tax at this week’s Conservative Party Conference.

Birmingham Council faces an annual rates bill on empty property of £817,153, as revealed in Property Week (19.09.08). Busineses in the city will also be hit for around £22.7m, the council’s figures showed.

Whitby said: ‘Birmingham’s large scale regeneration has propelled it on to the global stage but the government’s current 'tax now, ask questions later' policy is threatening this growth and suffocating vital new developments.’

Whitby will speak at the BPF breakfast with council leaders on Tuesday morning at the Conservative conference, which began in Birmingham last night.

The Conservatives have already vowed to review empty rates if they come into power at the next election (Property Week, 29.08.08).

Liz Peace, chief executive of the BPF, said: ‘We need MPs to sign the Commons motion which was laid against this before recess. It is vital that local politicians come forward and stop the damage being done by this ill thought out tax.’