City demands tax powers to reverse high street slump
DESPERATE council bosses have asked for tax-raising powers to combat the loss of 125,000 shoppers from their high street every year.
Aberdeen City Council claims it is ‘essential’ that it is given power from Holyrood to set business rates, introduce a tourist tax and congestion charges.
Footfall on the city’s high street has slumped to 1.9million people in April 2019 from 2.3million in April 2016.
An independently compiled report found the city’s economy was showing signs of ‘modest recovery’ after the oil and gas downturn of 2014, which crippled many businesses and workforces in the region.
Council co-leaders Jenny Laing and Douglas Lumsden used the report to call for the ability to set their own economic powers for raising funds. Miss Laing said: ‘The recommendation from the economic panel was greater flexibility to adjust policy to meet unique economic trends – priorities and challenges that the current centralised focus simply cannot address.’
She said business rates, which are administered by councils but set by the Government, should also be devolved.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: ‘Discussions around the further fiscal empowerment of local authorities are ongoing as part of our Local Governance Review.
‘It is for councils, who have wide-ranging powers to reduce the rates paid by any ratepayer in their area, to determine how they prioritise their resources.’