A north-east entrepreneur has condemned a 115% rates rise which hit his department store yesterday and warned it could jeopardise nearly a dozen jobs.
Des Cheyne, owner of Banff’s Spotty Bag Shop, refurbished his store earlier this year in a bid to boost regeneration in the town centre.
But the £2million redevelopment of the shop and cafe has sent his rates bill spiralling out of control and now a new shop and community centre is under threat.
Mr Cheyne said: “This rates rise is a disaster for enterprise in Banff and you do wonder if the people who are making the decisions have any concept of what it is like to run a business or, in fact, if they care that people’s livelihoods are on the line.”
Mr Cheyne has lodged plans to transform the mothballed Banff Community Centre into a community space with a cafe, shop and children’s play area. The project could create 10 jobs, but he is now concerned his reassessed rates bill will eat into his funds.
He added: “I really want to invest in my local area, but decisions like this are making it less and less viable and some of the jobs I had wanted to create in the area might now be in danger.
“I will do my utmost to protect them, but there is a tipping point and we have reached it.”
Mr Cheyne argued the success of his company was working against him and the town – increasing his rates bill, but not leading to improvements in services from the local authority.
He said: “We do not mind paying our fair share if the money is being used wisely. Rather than working against enterprise we should be looking to encourage other people to invest in local business and stop the rot of our town centres.”
Last night a spokesman for the Scottish Government responded that businesses could appeal their rateable values until the end of September.
He added: “The Scottish Government has committed to around £660million of business rates relief this year and, as part of that, we listened to businesses and targeted support where it was most needed with relief worth £44.6million for particular sectors and specifically for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”