North East SNP MSPs must "break silence" in business rates row

Peter Chapman has called upon local SNP MSPs Stewart Stevenson and Gillian Martin to speak up on behalf of local companies.
Peter Chapman has called upon local SNP MSPs Stewart Stevenson and Gillian Martin to speak up on behalf of local companies.

A North East MSP has challenged his SNP counterparts to “break their silence” amid mounting pressure on the Scottish Government to take action on enormous business rates increases.

Companies across Aberdeenshire have raised serious concerns about the potentially devastating impact of punitive non-domestic rates rises following a 2015 revaluation.

Many employers have warned they may be forced to cut staff, while some firms have said that they may go out of business altogether amid increases of up to 250%.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay travelled to Aberdeen on Friday to meet business leaders from the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, but ruled out direct government intervention.

Now Scottish Conservative MSP Peter Chapman has called upon local SNP MSPs Stewart Stevenson and Gillian Martin to speak up on behalf of local companies.

Mr Chapman said: “We have heard warnings for several weeks now in the press about the potentially devastating impact that these rates rises could have on our local economy.

“We cannot underestimate the damage that this could cause at a time when many businesses are already struggling due to the ongoing downturn in the oil and gas industry.

“My Scottish Conservative colleagues and I have been raising this issue with the Finance Secretary in an effort to arrive at a solution to help businesses affected.

“However, there has been a wall of silence from our local SNP politicians, who seem unable or unwilling to stand up for their constituents.

“I have written to Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin urging them to join me in supporting our local businesses. I know my mailbag is packed with correspondence, and I imagine that the same is true of our SNP representatives.

“It is not good enough to simply ignore this problem and toe the party line from Edinburgh – our SNP MSPs need to break their silence and speak up for North East area."