Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) has agreed to write off the debts of a popular Andover café that closed in 2019.

Members of TVBC’s cabinet voted to deem the debts of Butters Café “uncollectable” at a meeting on Wednesday. The café had closed in 2019, with TVBC saying there was “no realistic prospect” of recouping unpaid business rates.

Councillors also voted to write off the debt of a timber business at the same time.

Cllr Maureen Flood, the financial portfolio holder for TVBC, said that it was “inevitable” that these reports are received and there is “no other alternative option” to writing the debt off.

Butters Café was for many years a hub of social activity in the town, providing food and live music to the people of Andover. It hosted numerous events, including open mic nights and auditions for The Voice in 2016.

However, complaints about noise, and an arson attack, proved a setback to the popular café. Rumours of its closure and relocation to Bournemouth in 2017 proved false, but the death knell was struck two years later following a false alarm. Having changed its name to Chalkies, the business closed in October 2019.

The limited company behind the café was dissolved in September 2020, and at the time of its final filing with Companies House in 2018, its balance sheet showed it had £111,749 in liquid assets and £40,618 of fixed assets, as well as £96,717 in liabilities.

According to TVBC, it was owed £27,924 in business rates, which were being pursued by Magistrates’ Courts. However, once the company was dissolved, TVBC has no authority to continue pursuing these funds.

Addressing the cabinet, Cllr Flood said: “The council’s financial regulations require that the council must approve the write-off of any debts over £25,000 so it’s inevitable that reports like this will need to be presented to cabinet from time to time.

“It reflects that occasionally businesses become insolvent or enter administration and cannot pay their liabilities and money owed to the council proves to be uncollectable. There is no other alternative option available to continue alternative recovery action for these debts. The report before you this evening recommends that the two business rates debts are written off.”

Councillors subsequently approved the motion without dissent.