Plea for business rates relief falls on deaf ears

The Aberdeen St Nicholas Street M&S Store

ANOTHER plea for the Scottish Government to match England’s 75% business rates relief has been turned down by SNP economy chief Neil Gray.

Scottish Conservative North East MSP Liam Kerr branded the confirmation as a betrayal to the regeneration of Union Street after business leaders from McGinty’s, Caber Coffee and Aberdeen Inspired all made the plea earlier this month.

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It follows the announcement that M&S is set to close its flagship Aberdeen store after 80 years while food hall Haigs has closed its doors after 12 years in the city.  

At Holyrood, Mr Kerr urged wellbeing economy minister Neil Gray to stop ignoring firms and introduce the regime so that businesses are competitive with those south of the border.

In England, the UK Government extended its 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure as part of its autumn statement.

He told Mr Gray: “The current system imposed in Scotland is destroying Union Street yet SNP ministers are all too happy to brush the issue under the carpet to the detriment of our city centre.

Mr Gray responded: “Marks and Spencer’s decision to close its Union Street store but invest £15 million in doubling its space at Union Square is a signal of intent and of confidence in the market in Aberdeen.”

“My understanding is that the decision will have no bearing on redundancies.

“I do not believe that the issue of non-domestic rates had any impact on M&S’s decision to provide substantial investment.”

M&S announced their planned departure from the Granite Mile last week, while other city centre businesses such as Haig’s and Olive Alexanders have closed this year.

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