Dressage trainer David Pincus faced court proceedings against Herefordshire county council recently due to the part non-payment of his rates bill.

David, who runs Sheepcote EC, near Hereford, maintains that he runs an education establishment but that he and his pupils are discriminated against and that they should receive the same benefits as establishments of further education.

Sheepcote EC has up to 10 pupils in training for NPS, BHS and NVQ exams at any one time. David provides two houses for the student’s accommodation but has no rate relief. He currently pays over £6000 p/a in rates.

“I went to court as a matter of principle, but of course I could not win ,” he says. “As far as this court is concerned I have not paid my full rates. I have a bill and I have to pay it. My pupils who choose to come to a non-academic establishment and want a hands-on education are being discriminated against those who choose to take academic qualifications. Those who go to colleges get grants – colleges get rate relief. There is one rule for colleges and one for everyone else. To add insult to injury the colleges are funded by the taxpayer, myself included. We cater for and provide young people with education but get no recognition for it what so ever.”

David has tried to get a clarification on his rates since 1995. He would now like to take this issue to the European court, but is aware that this will cost time and money.

“The government wants farms and farmers to diversify, but who can afford to if this is the outcome. We need to raise the whole issue that the horse industry is facing – everyone in the same situation as me will give up training, thus denying many young people of the chance to practical further education.