Kirkcaldy BID gives input to town centre rates review

Bill Harvey, manager of Kirkcaldy 4All (pic by Fife Photo Agency)
Bill Harvey, manager of Kirkcaldy 4All (pic by Fife Photo Agency)

Town centre BID, Kirkcaldy 4All, was invited to sit in on a government think tank to look at ways of exploring and improving the non-domestic rates system in Scotland.

The Barclay Review, chaired by Ken Barclay, former chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, was commissioned by the Scottish Government and aims to boost business growth.

After putting forward an initial submission, Kirkcaldy 4All was asked to give evidence in person – the only one of Scotland’s 37 BIDs to receive such an invitation.

Bill Harvey, BID manager said: “We sat with people from organisations like CBI, Tesco, Scottish Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses and the Scottish Retail Consortium, so it was a powerful table.

“It was quite an informal meeting, but it was very well structured and everybody was asked to give their ideas. I was asked about town centres and the effect the rating system has, so we went through quite a long list.”

The review will report back to the government with its findings and recommendations in July

“It was really interesting to be involved,” Bill said, “They looked at things like the empty properties rates relief, the appeals procedure and how often we should be reviewing town centre business rates. It encompassed an awful lot and there was a myriad of ideas and suggestions put in.

“The only disappointment for me was a caveat from the government that it had to be cost neutral. I think if you want to reform you would need to remove that.”

Overall, Bill feels the review is a step in the right direction for the regeneration of town centres.

“I think the government does want to do something about it, but I think it will require them taking a leap of faith and perhaps they won’t want to take that risk financially.

“It’s good that they want to listen and hopefully they will respond to the review’s findings.”