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TORIES AND INDEPENDENTS VOTE AGAINST RATES RELIEF FOR MORAY BUSINESSES

15/02/2017  

SNP Councillors in Moray have condemned the actions of Tory and Independent Councillors who voted against providing rates relief for Moray businesses.

In a reasoned amendment the SNP Opposition’s Spokesperson on Economic Development, Cllr Graham Leadbitter, urged Moray councillors to back a local rates relief schemes to provide transitional support to the small number of businesses that have seen larger rates revaluations.

Instead Independent and Tory Councillors voted to take no action other than write a letter to the Scottish Government.

The rates revaluation is being undertaken by the Independent District Valuer, which is overseen by a board made of councillors from Moray, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils and Chaired by Moray Independent Councillor Ron Shepherd - a senior councillor in The Moray Council’s Administration.

The SNP Scottish Government has already used its own powers to increase the threshold for rates to 15,000 pounds, the most generous rates scheme for small and medium enterprises in the whole of the UK.

SNP Councillors say they recognise that, despite the majority of businesses benefiting from the Small Business Bonus Scheme and other rates reliefs, there are a small number of businesses in Moray that are seeing difficult revaluations. They have pointed to neighbouring Aberdeenshire Council where the SNP are working with coalition partners to bring forward a transitional relief scheme to help businesses in that position.

Speaking after the debate the SNP’s Councillor Leadbitter said:

“What we had today was a non-motion from two Independent Councillors to write a letter - nothing more, nothing less. The SNP instead put forward a concrete positive proposal that a transitional rates relief scheme should be drawn up and reported to the Council before the end of March.

“The Council’s Independent and Tory Administration had the opportunity today to grasp the nettle and support that positive proposition and take real action, using the power that the Council was given last year, and provide financial relief to the small number of businesses that may struggle with their rates revaluation.

“In this round of rates revaluations it is important to remember that more businesses than ever in Moray will not be required to pay any rates. We recognise, however, that there are some sectors like hospitality where some businesses have been hit with larger revaluations than they may have expected and that is why we put forward a proposal to take real action in support of that.

“The bottom line is that every Independent and Tory Councillor at today’s council meeting voted to take no real action and simply to write a petulant letter. This is about taking responsibility and the Independents and Tories have shown no responsibility whatsoever on this issue.”

Buckie SNP Councillor Sonya Warren, who seconded the motion said:

“The SNP view Economic Development as a major priority for Moray, which is why we put forward a really positive proposal to support the small number of existing businesses that have seen larger rates rises.

“The number of businesses benefiting from the Small Business Bonus Scheme and paying no rates whatsoever is at a record level and other reliefs, such as for rural businesses, are also a major benefit to many Moray businesses.

“We recognise that there are some businesses that may need additional support in light of their revaluation and that is why we proposed that the Council bring forward a rates relief scheme.

“Aberdeenshire are able to do so, why not Moray? Instead the Tories and Independents voted as one to provide no transitional relief whatsoever. There was no leadership or responsibility on show from the Council’s Administration on this important issue.”

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