LOCAL Liberal Democrats have criticised the Scottish Government for ignoring the concerns of business over the level of empty property business rates relief on empty property.

The comments came after the Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Properties etc) (Scotland) Bill passed the final stage to become law due to an SNP majority.

Liberal Democrat housing spokesman Jim Hume MSP had pressed an amendment which would have removed the provisions which allow the Scottish Government to reduce the level of empty property business rates relief.

The amendment had gained support from both Labour and Conservative parties, but was passed by the SNP majority, defeating opposition amendments.

North East Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes said: “This was an extremely disappointing day for business in Scotland and a disappointing day for jobs in Scotland. The debate saw the SNP bulldozer in top gear, ignoring the concerns of opposition parties and respected business groups.”

Stonehaven councillor Peter Bellarby commented: “Liberal Democrats remain concerned that this will hit businesses hard and do nothing to regenerate struggling town centres. The SNP government wants to hammer businesses with high taxes when it should be helping them to recover and grow.”

North Kincardine councillor Ian Mollison added: “Reducing the level of rates relief on unoccupied properties will increase the burden on businesses. This is not the way to get Scotland out of a recession.”

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