An Aberdeen restaurateur has warned a popular shopping district could become filled with empty shop fronts due to the business rates crisis.
Lisa Kelbie, who owns Bistro Verde on the Green, said she feared the area could suffer the same fate as Union Street.
Ms Kelbie faces a new annual rates bill of £5,417 after taking into account of her small business allowance.
She said the 15% increase on last year was putting pressure on her business which has been hit hard by the oil downturn.
“2014 and 2015 were bad but 2016 was even worse,” she said.
“We used to do a lot of corporate events but they have dropped off.
“Our rates rise wouldn’t seem like a lot to a big business who can absorb it but we are now at the stage where we are really having to watch every penny.
“I don’t know why it seems the north-east is paying such a big increase in business rates just at the time when we need support the most.
“The Green is a great area filled with loads of independent shops but Union Street is a bit of a mess. I’m worried we could go the same way.
“I will fight having to close with everything I have, I’m trying to stay positive for my staff but I really have to look closely at the situation in the future.”
Ms Kelbie said she had applied for the Scottish Government’s rates relief scheme, which caps hospitality industry increases at 12.5%, but is awaiting a reply.
A government spokesman said all bills are predicated on the independent assessors valuation of their property and a business has a right of appeal if they disagree with their property valuation.
He said: “The recent revaluation of business rates was undertaken by independent Assessors appointed by local government, with the Scottish Government having no part in the process.
“The Scottish Government has committed to around £660 million of business rates relief this year, including an additional £7.5 million announced specifically for rates relief for businesses in Aberdeen. Local councils administer this relief, and we would strongly encourage Aberdeen City Council to promote it with local businesses to ensure they maximise take up.
“We anticipate the Barclay Review will report to Ministers in August. Ministers have committed to act swiftly on the recommendations.”