BOSSES behind a luxury hotel landed themselves in court after refusing to pay £45,000 in business rates.

James Moreno and Carl Blanchette, who opened the Blue Ivy boutique hotel on North Hill, Colchester, argued they were being wrongly charged by Colchester Council.

Rates were not paid at all between April 2018 and April this year.

The pair were summoned to court, where in February, they denied being liable for the rates.

But a trial held at Colchester Magistrates’ Court found the pair were liable.

Colchester Council said the pair will have to pay £21,598 in rates and more than £6,000 costs.

But speaking after the hearing, Mr Moreno, who said he is now a leaseholder for the business, claimed the Valuation Office, which sets business rates, has agreed these should be reduced to £18,000.

Mr Moreno added: “We have been in a dispute with Colchester Council about the rates for a year.

“We didn’t pay rates for the year because we had a dispute about the rateable value.

“The rates have now been reduced massively.”

Mr Moreno, who attended court on Monday, said until the dispute last year, rates were paid.

Mr Blanchette did not attend and Mr Moreno said he had left the business.

Mr Moreno added: “The system of rateable property in Colchester isn’t fair because some people are being charged excessive amounts.”

However, a Colchester Council spokesman said: “The council works to support businesses to meet their business rates liabilities, but in some cases must go down an enforcement route to recover monies owed.

“We are pleased the court agreed to issue a liability order against both defendants, who it recognises as the legal occupiers of the business and therefore responsible for business rates.

“The decision means we can now proceed to recover a significant debt, as well as our legal costs.”

The 17-room Blue Ivy hotel opened to a fanfare in October 2015 in a former law office, creating more than 25 jobs.

The business opened in the former Thompson, Smith and Puxon, grade II Listed building on North Hill – after a £1million two-year refurbishment.

The Blue Ivy’s restaurant saw Masterchef Professionals contestant Charlie Stocker in charge.