"THIS could be our last year of trading if we keep getting stung like this."

That is the view of a pet shop owner who says the sudden rise in licensing costs, in order to keep animals, is hitting small businesses too hard.

Tammy Lee, 36, of Droitwich Road, Worcester, owns Happy Pets in Pershore with her husband Paul, and says she was "shocked" to discover the annual cost of the licence had more than doubled from £120 to £260 when it was up for renewal this January.

"I think it's disgusting that they've done this, how can they justify it?

"This is Pershore, not Worcester, it's a small town and we're a small business, yet they double the charges knowing people are going to struggle to pay them.

"Pershore is a struggling town when it comes to trade, and it's examples like this as to why. If they keep hitting small, independent businesses hard there wont be any left. It wouldn't be so bad if we were a massive chain but we are not.

"If we lose our animals it will finish us. This could be our last year of trading if the licences rise in cost again, I was shocked enough to see this year's rise.

"They are killing us by stinging us like this."

The pet shop, in Royal Arcade, Broad Street, sells rabbits, chinchillas, goldfish, hamsters , but only a couple of each, as well as a selection of pet care products.

Mrs Lee said the animals also bring in a lot of children to the store who are wanting to see them, which also acts as an important tool in boosting trade.

The Animal Boarding and Pet Shop Fees licence has to be renewed every year, to be paid in January.

A spokeswoman for Worcestershire Regulatory Services, who enforce the charges set by district councils, said: "The rational behind this was that the same amount of work is undertaken on new applications and renewals and that these licenses were not based on a cost recovery basis as current central government draft guidance recommends. Fees and charges are reviewed on annual cost recovery basis to ensure fees are set at the correct level and ultimately we have to act on the decision made by each Local Council and its Members."

A spokesman for Wychavon District Council said: "We’re sorry that this business isn’t happy about the changes to the renewal license fees. We have been advised by Worcestershire Regulatory Services that our fees, that had previously been set, did not cover the costs of them providing the service and that we were losing money as a result. In addition, for ease of administration, we are trying to bring our fees in line with other council’s charges across Worcestershire. We appreciate that the increase is substantial, but it is necessary to ensure our fees cover our costs.”