Joy for bars as business rates rises capped

The Murrayfield Bar is one of the many pubs in the Capital set to benefit. Picture; Lisa Ferguson
The Murrayfield Bar is one of the many pubs in the Capital set to benefit. Picture; Lisa Ferguson
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PUBS, hotels, cafes and restaurants which feared they could be driven out of business by rates rises have been saved from closure after the Scottish Government announced a cap on increases.

The Espy bar and restaurant on Portobello promenade had been facing a massive rise in its business rates from £7350 to £40,344 a year.

But Finance Secretary Derek Mackay told the Scottish Parliament none of these premises would now see their bills rise by more than 12.5 per cent.

Espy owner Amanda Caygill said: “I was very pleased when I heard the announcement. I’ve been working with other traders nearby and we all breathed a big sigh of relief.”

She had warned she would have to lay off staff, put up prices and cut opening hours if the original rise had gone ahead.

Derek Wallace, of Reds cafe and restaurant in Portobello High Street, said he was “euphoric”.

He had feared for the future of his business because his bill was due to go up from £2600 to £10,400, but that threat has now been lifted. “It’s a big relief,” he said. “It’s absolutely good news. I’m very happy.

“It’s a good example of democracy in action. All the MPs and MSPs we approached from all parties agreed this was very unfair. They have all been on side – and that’s probably what turned it.”

Edinburgh East SNP MP Tommy Sheppard wrote to Mr Mackay two weeks ago, urging a cap and said he was delighted the Scottish Government had accepted the idea.

Mr Sheppard said: “I have been working with businesses in Portobello who faced unbelievable and potentially business destroying rates increases.

“The cap of a 12.5 per cent increase provides excellent support to hotels, pubs, restaurants and cafes. It’s only for one year, but that gives us time to look sensibly at this without anyone going out of business.

“This is a situation where the revaluation by independent assessors threw up some horrendous consequences and the SNP government has responded to pressure from businesses and acted to put things right.

“It’s wonderful news for the businesses concerned, but it also vindicates the political process.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com