Hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor can’ t give a warm wel­come to sham­bolic re­view

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - EXCLUSIVE -

You couldn’t make it up!

On the day the long-awaited Bar­clay Re­view Of Busi­ness Rates was fi­nally pub­lished, bil­lion­aire US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was given a £110,000 prop­erty tax rebate for his lux­ury ho­tel in Turn­berry.

He was ben­e­fit­ting from a Scot­tish Govern­ment scheme set up to help “small busi­nesses”.

It was an emer­gency scheme in­tended to help firms from the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor who were be­ing clat­tered by a very un­fair rates val­u­a­tion sys­tem.

The news had many shak­ing their heads in hor­ror.

Not me – I ac­tu­ally burst out laugh­ing at the irony.

Re­gard­less of your views on Don­ald Trump, whether you feel he shouldn’t be given a groat let alone a 110 grand, he is an ac­com­plished busi­ness­man, a ma­jor in­vestor and em­ployer in Scot­land.

In fact, the Turn­berry Ho­tel met the cri­te­ria set by the asses­sor for their rates to be capped and to re­ceive a rebate. So well done!

How­ever, I wasn’t laugh­ing when I read, the Bar­clay Re­view.

Rag­ing, yes. Cry­ing, al­most. Laugh­ing – no.

With the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor – Scot­land’s sec­ond largest em­ployer – beg­ging for rad­i­cal change to it rates and the door for change ly­ing wide open, the re­port slammed it shut.

Hon­estly, there was so much gob­bledy­gook in this 135-page tome, I thought I was go­ing to have to bor­row an Enigma code­break­ing ma­chine from the mu­seum at Bletch­ley Park.

What was abun­dantly clear though, was that this was not the rad­i­cal and fair over­haul of the busi­ness rates sys­tem we had fought for and, to all in­tent and pur­poses, been promised.

It didn’t even come close. We were rel­e­gated to the back of the re­view which, even though it agreed we were un­fairly treated and our method of val­u­a­tion flawed, blamed their in­abil­ity for even try­ing to find a so­lu­tion on the fact that it was a prob­lem too com­pli­cated for them to solve.

Did I tell you Ken Bar­clay, au­thor of the re­port, is a former head of the Royal Bank Of Scot­land?

Yes the bailed-out sham­bles of a bank that cost the coun­try bil­lions.

So why, when it’s painfully ob­vi­ous there is some­thing rot­ten in our busi­ness rates sys­tem, have Bar­clay and his Te­fal-headed team given it a mas­sive rub­ber ear and not stood up and been counted?

But they did slap them­selves on the back for their rec­om­men­da­tion of the re­moval of char­i­ta­ble sta­tus of pri­vate schools and ALEOS (com­pa­nies that de­liver coun­cil ser­vices such as sports and leisure, build­ing man­age­ment, and older peo­ple’s care).

Quite right, it’s about time they paid full busi­ness rates, es­pe­cially pri­vate schools, that’s a no-brainer.

I also wel­come the news they want to re­duce the un­fair rates com­pe­ti­tion with hos­pi­tal­ity busi­nesses from uni­ver­si­ties and other pub­lic-sec­tor ser­vices.

How­ever, I am ap­palled that this re­view has de­cided to take the easy op­tion when faced with such a ma­jor is­sue by com­pletely ig­nor­ing it in the hope that it might go away.

That is as in­ex­cus­able as it is shame­ful and could have a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on our be­lea­guered in­dus­try.

It’s like some­thing out of Monty Python – the 100-yard dash for those with no sense of di­rec­tion.

Well the road map of sup­port to be trav­elled for the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor is now very clear.

With the door for change wide open, they slammed it shut

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