Hard-hit Borders firms ‘need rate relief’

Businesses in Hawick are recovering after record rainfall saw areas of the town hit by floods.

Businesses in Hawick are recovering after record rainfall saw areas of the town hit by floods.

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Jack Clark, convenor of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce, is calling for immediate help for businesses affected by flooding and the Forth Road Bridge closure.

He wants help to come through some adjustment in business rates.

Mr Clark said: “The sudden, unforeseen closure of the Forth Road Bridge poses a real – if temporary – threat to the Scottish economy.

“Many businesses in the Borders will be affected by the removal of this vital road link. We don’t yet know exactly how long the bridge will be out of action, but we have written to all our members urging them to make urgent short to medium-term plans to circumvent this problem and reduce any impact on their businesses.

“I’m sure all our hearts go out to all householders and businesses affected by the weekend’s flooding, particularly in Hawick but in other parts of the Borders, too.

“It is especially hard that this has happened in the run up to Christmas when shops and businesses are at their busiest.

“Now is not the time for ‘pointing any fingers’ as to the causes behind these dreadful events but, on behalf of the chamber’s members and, indeed, all local businesses, I call upon our elected representatives at council, Holyrood and Westminster levels to look urgently at what immediate measures can be put in place to give much needed financial assistance to local businesses. In this, I am thinking particularly of the business rates system.

“I am confident some measure of rates relief could be put in place which would go a long way to offset any impact which businesses are now sustaining through causes beyond their control.

“We will be taking this up as a matter of urgency with all our region’s elected representatives.”