We depend on business associations to bring to our attention current business issues that we can credibly raise in the appropriate circles. At the moment we are giving priority to the opportunities of the Borders Railway, SBC’s sagging road maintenance budget, and town centre deterioration.
City Region Deal
On the morning of Friday, 26th February 2016 the Scottish Borders Business Forum held an Open meeting in the Council Chambers, Newtown St Boswells, to which business leaders from all sectors will be invited to hear plans for a major City Deal involving Edinburgh City, Fife, the Lothians and the Scottish Borders.
The proposed City Region Deal envisages a City Region where investment, intellect and culture will fuse to create new ways of doing things.
The ambition is that within the next 20 years the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region will become the most connected, creative, inclusive and entrepreneurial place in Europe.
The City Region Deal foresees the building of a network of businesses, universities, technical and creative skills attracted by a great lifestyle and cultural offer.
SBC’s Bryan McGrath, Chief Officer Economic Development, lead us through the City Region Deal proposal and how it can benefit the Scottish Borders. A Q&A session followed, during which the audience were invited for their comments and to offer ideas about the projects they would expect to see in the City Region Deal that will have a positive economic and fiscal impact.
Funding for the City Region Deal will come from both the UK and Scottish Governments. Implementation of projects will take up to 10 years and each project will be assessed and if successful progress frequently monitored to ensure the expected outcomes are achieved.
Further information about the City Region Deal can be found at: www.acceleratinggrowth.org.uk
Representatives from the Forum meet with senior Council officials to discuss the potential benefits of the Borders Railway project, particularly with reference to the area’s key employment sectors.
With the release of the report by the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, the Forum is keen to contribute to ways in which this agenda can be taken forward by engaging with education.
Another one of the current business issues affecting the Scottish Borders is tourism. The tourism sector is vital to the economic well being of the Scottish Borders and the Forum is dedicated to ensuring that tourism is given a profile that matches its importance.
The SBC budget for road maintenance is inadequate, and continues to be squeezed by the statutory obligations of the big-spending departments. This is of concern to virtually all the business sectors of the Scottish Borders, not to mention domestic road-users. We are actively taking steps to bring our concerns to the attention of those who set the budgets in Holyrood.
Business rates are one of the mainstays of local business taxation and is in many ways one of the least understood. SBBF are seeking to identify issues with the current rating system both locally and nationally in an attempt to make it fairer and less prone to misunderstanding. As a first step we are requesting general issues to be identified and emailed to us. (Please do not send personal specific issues here but direct them in the first instance to the organisation representing your business.)
At present the main issues which have been raised are:
- Uncertainty as to how the current SME rates exemption will continue
- Uncertainty as to how the current agricultural building rates exemption will continue
- Apparent differences in the way similar properties are rated
- Apparent differences in the way multi site properties are being treated.
We would welcome more general statements and issues.
The Scottish Government are currently doing a survey on the issue of local taxation. Click here to complete the survey.