Branch forced to switch venue

SNP priced out of meeting by own rates rise

Nicola Sturgeon at BIPC2015
First Minister: appeal

An SNP branch has been forced to switch its regular meetings at a local hotel because it could not afford an increase in cost – caused by its own hike in business rates.

The north east branch told the Banff Springs Hotel in Aberdeenshire that raising the price of hiring a room from £30 to £80 was “excessive” and that despite using the facilities since 1976 it would have to move elsewhere.

It has since emerged that the hotel was passing on a steep rise in business rates imposed by the SNP government which has added £50,000 to the hotel’s annual bill.

The Banff and Macduff branch told the hotel: “The increase in hire fee is excessive to say the least. Should this apply … I can confirm there will be no further booking and our business will be taken elsewhere.”

The embarrassing revelation was raised at First Minister’s Questions by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, as she attacked the SNP on its increasing of business taxes.

That move, along with income tax hits to be announced later in the Scottish Budget will make Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the hotel would have an opportunity to appeal against the rise.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “Even the SNP’s own branches are opposing the hike in business rates, so perhaps it’s time for Nicola Sturgeon to listen.

“These unfair increases, which see businesses like the Banff Springs Hotel paying more than double their current rates, could force closures and job losses.

“The SNP won’t listen to reason or hard evidence, so perhaps it will take notice now it’s been embarrassed in the Scottish Parliament.

“If the First Minister’s own party doesn’t support this policy, surely even she recognises it’s time to do something about it.”

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