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Chamber boss speaks out

Sturgeon ‘guilty of decline in relationship with business’

Stuart Patrick

Stuart Patrick: the business community are concerned (pic: Terry Murden)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to arrest a growing deterioration in the relationship between her government and the business community.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, accused the Holyrood government of lecturing businesses on fair work and the green economy, “as if the business community are a bunch of naughty schoolchildren.”

Mr Patrick said the tone of the relationship during the pandemic has seen a decline in the government’s trust in business and a growing suspicion of making a profit.

“A lot of the business community are concerned the Scottish Government doesn’t trust the business community. That attitude is reaching a level of being reciprocated,” he said in an interview.

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“There is a raw anger at times with the way business perspectives are dismissed in the debate in Scotland.”

Mr Patrick replied there had been “significant” change in the attitude of business towards the Holyrood government.

He told The Herald that the current relationship between business and the Scottish Government “cannot be where we want to be if we want to create a partnership to build the economy.”

Mr Patrick added: “I think the First Minister needs to recognise that relationship is not where it needs to be. It has been damaged over the last seven or eight months. It has to be recognised that has happened, and we need to do some work to recover it.”

He said there has to be a change in the attitude of politicians towards business, in particular the view among some politicians that making a profit is a bad thing.

He said: “Without profitability, we cannot have jobs in the private sector.”

Mr Patrick added: “At times, it seems like the government is lecturing the business community on fair work, the green economy, as if the business community are a bunch of naughty schoolchildren who need to be brought to heel.

“Fundamentally, the challenges of fair work and the green economy are largely going to be resolved by innovation in the private sector.”

Call for Hogmanay support

Scottish Labour has called for additional funding for businesses that rely on Hogmanay as a key source of revenue but have been forced to close due to pandemic restrictions and the levels system.

It comes as First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, urged people to remain at home during the festive season, avoiding street parties and the traditional first-footing, with blanket level 4 restrictions across mainland Scotland from Boxing Day.

Scottish Labour culture, tourism and external affairs spokesperson Claire Baker said: “Pubs, shops, restaurants and bars have all been impacted by the pandemic.

“Not all tourism businesses can simply go online and not everyone can access the internet. Many other smaller businesses depend on physical footfall and passing traffic to keep their businesses afloat, such as stalls, rides and visitor attractions.

“Funding has been made available for many tourism businesses, along with the £14m fund for hotels. However, this fund has been overwhelmed with applications and shows that there has been a miscalculation over the level of support needed across Scotland.”



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