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Outrage over support

Fury at massive subsidy to support MSPs’ catering

Stephen Montgomery

Stephen Montgomery: ‘scandalous’

MSPs have spent 17 times more subsidising their own hospitality than the average payout to pubs, restaurants and hotels during the pandemic.

Holyrood has benefited from £680,000 in catering costs compared to £40,000 typically received by struggling hospitality businesses.

The figures are contained in quarterly reports on the level of financial support required to run the catering services at Holyrood.

The Scottish Hospitality Group, representing about 200 pub and restaurant venues, says the benefits received by MSPs are in stark contrast to the help available for those operators providing jobs and generating incomes. 

The SHG’s members include DRG Group,  Buzzworks Holdings, Signature Pubs, Montpeliers, Manorview Group, Lisini Pub Co, G1 Group, The Townhead Hotel, Lockerbie and Mor-Rioghain Group.     

Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the group, described the difference in payments as “scandalous” that will be “impossible to stomach for those working in the hospitality sector.”

In a statement issued to the media, he said: “It’s the very definition of the self-serving behaviour that gives the political classes such a bad name. 

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“It’s revealing that politicians do understand after all how much help struggling hospitality operations need.

“But the level of taxpayers’ money given to their own facilities is genuinely unbelievable compared to the amount we’ve had to beg for over many months and it all leaves us with an extremely bad taste in the mouth. 

“What’s worse is that the government has admitted through an FOI response that it doesn’t have any evidence for the restrictions that are costing our businesses dear. 

“Candidates for Holyrood would do well to reflect on their positions about this issue as they face the electorate, especially those whose jobs and livelihoods depend on a thriving hospitality sector.” 

Edinburgh unveils new regime

Edinburgh City Council is waiving charges for outdoor area occupation permits (for tables and chairs) until the end of the summer season.

Under the current roadmap for relaxing Covid measures in Scotland hospitality businesses will be able to operate within restricted hours from 26 April.

Outdoor hospitality, with alcohol, will be permitted until 10pm, while food can be served indoors, without alcohol, until an 8pm closing time.

Outdoor socialising rules will also be relaxed so that a maximum of six adults from three households can meet up.

George IV pub

Outdoor permits fees will be waived

To help hospitality businesses recover more quickly, the Council has agreed that fees will be waived for outdoor area occupation permits until at least 30 September 2021.

This measure will apply across the city meaning all Edinburgh hospitality businesses are eligible, provided they apply for and obtain the relevant road occupation permit.  Where appropriate, kerbside parking charges will also be suspended to accommodate outdoor area occupation permits. 

In addition, the Council has been working very closely with Essential Edinburgh to help create more space for businesses to operate outdoors in the George Street / BID area, with proposals to close sections of George Street and reconfigure kerbside space, with kerbside parking suspended.



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