Council demands change

Retail leader resists handing more rates powers to councils

David Lonsdale

David Lonsdale: retrograde step (pic: Terry Murden)

A retail leader has hit back at calls from a Scottish council for business rates to be devolved from the government.

Aberdeen City Council wants powers over rates to help raise revenue, alongside a tourist tax and congestion charges.

It comes as a new report shows footfall in the city’s shops has slumped over three years from 2.3 million to 1.9m.

Council co-leaders Jenny Laing and Douglas Lumsden used the report to call for the ability to set their own economic powers for raising funds. Miss Laing said: “The recommendation from the economic panel was greater flexibility to adjust policy to meet unique economic trends.” She said business rates, which are administered by councils but set by the Government, should also be devolved.

But David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said handing control over business rates to local authorities would be a hugely retrograde step.

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