Community sports club could cut activities due to huge business rate hike
A COMMUNITY sports club serving some poorer parts of the city fear they could be landed with unaffordable bills thanks to a proposed change in rules aimed at wealthy golf establishments.
And they warned that could mean having to scrap many of their activities.
The Scottish Government is consulting on a recommendation by the independent Barclay review on business rates that sports clubs with significant assets should lose their current rates relief.
But members of Edinburgh’s Inch Park Community Sports Club (IPCSC), which caters for over 2,000 people a week, many of them from the Inch, Gracemount, Burdiehouse, Craigmillar, are worried they could face massive rates demands which it will not be able to afford.
In his report, former RBS chairman Ken Barclay said he wanted to retain relief for community sports facilities, but noted the current rules had allowed two of the most prestigious golf clubs in the country to receive £144,000 and £75,000 worth of relief in 2015.
The report recommended: “Sports club relief should be reviewed to ensure it supports affordable community-based facilities, rather than members clubs with significant assets which do not require relief.”
IPCSC chairman Paul Reddish said the club leases the land it occupies at Gilmerton Road from the council, but owns the building, valued at £2m, which was financed by fundraising from the local community.
He said he did not disagree with the review’s aim if the rule changes was targeted at the right clubs, such as those charging high membership fees and turning over large profits.
However, he said: “Our worry is it’s done on assets, making a link between assets and wealth.
“In our case, yes we have a significant asset but we absolutely don’t have wealth.
“We just about break even each year, although last year we made a small loss. Given the area we operate, the vast majority of our programmes are inexpensive or free to let people make use of the facilities.
“If we had to find £10,000 a year for business rates a lot of that activity would have to stop or we would have to put up the charges significantly – and I’m not sure people could afford it, or potentially we would have to hand the land and the building back to the council and say we can’t afford to run it.”
The Barclay review also recommended arms-length companies like Edinburgh Leisure should lose their rates relief on sports centres and swimming pools – another proposal on which the government in consulting.
Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: “Inch Park Community Sports Club do an amazing job and their issues underline the problem with the business rates regime.
“The SNP need a rethink on rates or they will put at risk invaluable work sports clubs like inch Park do, getting and keeping people active.”