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Make Scotland's high streets rate-free, says Moray MP and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross

By Alistair Whitfield

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Douglas Ross is proposing Moray and other Scottish councils should have the power to create business rates-free zones.

The Scottish Conservative leader states the measure would give the nation's high streets "a fighting chance".

Douglas Ross
Douglas Ross

He said: "In many parts of our country, businesses, high streets and town centres were struggling long before the pandemic began.

"We’ve seen that here in Moray and I want to give our high streets a fighting chance.

"Under our plans, Moray Council would be given the power and funding to create zones in their town centres where premises would be exempt from paying business rates.

"Cutting taxes for retailers in the heart of our town centres would send a clear message that the government supports them.

"But more than that, it will help our local communities rebuild after the economic damage of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"That is going to be vital over the next 12 months and beyond."

Mr Ross is also proposing further incentives to re-develop long-term empty business units into housing.

Such action is backed by Tim Eagle, the leader of the Tories on Moray Council.

He said: "There are businesses in town centres across Moray that have struggled during this pandemic due to the lockdown and then the subsequent drop in footfall after re-opening.

"The problems have been compounded with fewer visitors coming to Moray due to restrictions imposed elsewhere in the Scotland and indeed across the UK.

"This policy would provide a much-needed helping hand to high street retailers as we begin to get our economy back on track.

"Councillors in Moray and all across Scotland have become increasingly frustrated in recent years with the centralisation of services and control from Edinburgh.

"Policies like the rates freeze and the ability to step in and act where there are long-term empty business units would empower local councils and bring real benefits to communities."

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