Assessor defends lower rates on council premises
A Lothian rates assessor has refuted allegations that properties owned by Edinburgh City Council are being given a more lenient assessment of their rateable value than private premises.
Eddie Tait, owner of the Boardwalk Beach Club on Cramond Foreshore, produced a list of properties owned by the council which were rated by as much as half of his own property.
His own business has seen its RV shoot up from £3,500 when he acquired it in 2016 to £42,000 in the latest assessment. Other businesses in the area are similarly rated. The Cramond Inn is £34,000 and Mimi’s Cafe at Lauriston Castle is £30,000.
Council-owned property have low valuations. The Writer’s Museum off The Mound has an RV of £21,200. The Garden Bistro at Saughton is valued at £22,600 and the Meadows Pavilion at £20,000.
Mr Tait asked why council property “seems to be rated lower than private businesses. The assessors just seem to be plucking figures out of the air.”
Ross Paterson, assistant assessor for Lothian Valuation Joint Board, defended the latest assessments and said the board was not influenced by the council.
“I must refute the allegation made by Mr Tait that Edinburgh City Council owned premises are being given a more lenient assessment of their rateable value than private premises,” he said.
“Although a public official appointed by the Lothian Valuation Joint Board, the assessor is wholly independent of the four constituent councils that form the Joint Board for his valuation area.
“Such independence is crucial in the performance of his statutory duties in valuing all rateable property in his area, including that of local and central government bodies. He is therefore free from any political influence and is not answerable to his constituent councils as to the correctness of his valuations or the methods used to determine them.”
Mr Paterson said that in arriving at his valuations, the assessor “must do so strictly in accordance with Lands Valuation Acts”.
The Lothian Assessor is responsible for the four council areas of the Lothian Region. The most recent revaluation of all non domestic took place over four months ago on 1 April this year.
“Subjects are assessed in accordance with their most appropriate scheme of value in terms of what they are and the use to which they are devoted,” said Mr Paterson.
“It is solely the valuation of the property that the assessor is concerned and nothing else. The only distinctions he makes are those of a valuation nature insofar as they allowed for within the scheme itself.
“There is a statutory right of appeal should a ratepayer feel aggrieved with the value that the assessor has allocated to their property.
“The final date for lodging a proposal is fast approaching on 31 August 2023. More information on that or how to make a Non Domestic Proposal can be found by visiting www.saa.gov.uk.”