Future Hawick ‘hopeful’ of rates reduction pilot scheme

Future Hawick, the local regeneration group, is to meet with Scottish Borders Council over the next few weeks to discuss the possibility of introducing a pilot scheme to reduce business rates in the central area of the town.

The move follows the Scottish Government’s decision late last year to allow local authorities to lower business rates under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill.

Discussions follow a paper sent to the council by Future Hawick which recognised the financial restrictions under which SBC is operating, but pointed out the importance of vibrant town centres.

The paper received a positive response from SBC and led to initial discussions between Future Hawick, Councillor Stuart Bell, the council’s executive member for economic development, Councillor Ron Smith, officials from the economic, planning and neighbourhood services departments, and Rates Assessor representatives.

Future Hawick chairman Derick Tait said: “Business rates, especially on the High Street area, have always been an issue, and if we are to encourage new and existing investment, we clearly have to look at every opportunity which arises.

“We received a very fair hearing from Councillor Bell and his colleagues on our proposals for a pilot scheme, and while it is still early days, we hope that a plan to help traders can be put in place.”