Shopkeepers affected by the multimillion-pound revamp of Aberdeen city centre are furious after the council confirmed it would not offer them any relief on their business rates.
The £3.2million pedestrianisation project on Broad Street has suffered numerous delays, leaving traders on Upperkirkgate complaining of being unable to receive deliveries and attract customers.
And with the work now not expected to be fully completed until next year, numerous shopowners wrote to the council’s chief executive Angela Scott asking for relief on their business rates.
But Ms Scott has now said the authority “has no legal obligation” to offer compensation or rates relief to firms.
In a letter to Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart, Ms Scott states: “Upperkirkgate/Gallowgate is estimated to be open before Christmas and alongside the Christmas Village this will give a welcome boost to visitors.
“With the opening of Marischal Square also due imminently I am confident that trading for businesses on Upperkirkgate will improve significantly.”
But shoe shop owner Andrew Begg, who estimates the disruption has cost him 10% of his usual trade, said that a rates holiday was justified as the council had made a “pig’s ear” of the project. He said: “I wrote to (council chief executive) Angela Scott myself a month ago and got no reply so this is disappointing news.
“I understand that in Edinburgh firms affected by the tram works were compensated.”
Jackie Wilson, co-owner of sandwich shop Upperkrust, said: “I find it disgusting that we are sat here paying full rates for working in a building site.
“Since the road has been closed we have really struggled because we used to get a lot of customers who now are blocked off by the work.”
Mr Stewart said: “This response is a slap in the face to businesses who have been left to struggle due to months of incompetence from Aberdeen City Council.
“The chief executive’s letter will no doubt stick in the craw of local traders who have been let down by the local authority and now discover no support is being put in place.
“By the time these works have finished these traders will have had six months of low customer footfall and profit losses because of this project mismanagement.”