Sports clubs across the north-east are being hit with huge bills after the council implemented its new levy on business rates.
Golf clubs across Aberdeenshire are among those being hit by the changes to discretionary relief on business rates.
Aberdeenshire Council agreed to remove its blanket 100% reprieve on licensed sports clubs last year, with the changes only coming into effect in the past few months.
Now licensed premises at non profit sports groups, which may be deemed to be in direct competition with other local businesses, will receive 80% relief.
The council agreed clubs which provide catering or have a licence to sell booze “puts them in direct competition” with the likes of pubs and restaurants who do not benefit from such support.
Despite protests from many local golf clubs, the charges took hold in May.
Ellon’s McDonald Golf Club is among those that objected to the proposals in the first instance.
The organisation has been forced to increase its annual membership by £10 annually in order to cope with the changes.
Club secretary George Ironside said: “We did write a letter of protest when the thing came out initially. We got the first bill in just about the beginning of May.
“We used to pay nothing, now we pay 20%. We were told we had no option but to pay it. We made out a case for why we shouldn’t be paying it. They said if the club had a bar that was how it was going to be applied.
“We had to adjust our fees accordingly to compensate for the extra payment. We didn’t want to have to pay it in the first instance, but we were told the decision had been made by the council.”
Les Durno, general manager at Cruden Bay Golf Club, said: “It has hit us this year quite hard, but we are one of the lucky clubs, we have been very busy. We will just have to watch it.”
Another man involved with an Aberdeenshire golf club, who did not wish to be named, said they had received a rates bill topping £4,000 in May.
He added: “I think we’ll survive but I think many clubs will end up going to the wall because of this. For the better off clubs it is maybe not a huge problem.
“But many organisations trying to break even are having to pay a few thousands pounds.”
Non-licensed ones will continue receiving the full 100% relief.