Nicola Sturgeon was left squirming over hotel price rise complaint
Nicola Sturgeon was left squirming today after being told the SNP's Banff & Macduff branch threatened to take its business away from a local hotel amid rising costs.
Tory leader Ruth Davidson confronted the First Minister with a letter complaining to the Banff Springs Hotel after it increased room hire fees from £30 to £80.
The 36-bedroom venue made the move as it faces a £50,000 rise in rates because of the first revaluation since 2010.
Ms Davidson confronted the First Minister with a letter complaining to the Banff Springs Hotel
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They've been faced with a choice, to either reluctantly put up their charges or to go bust
Miss Davidson accused her of ignoring the "screams of pain from companies" and added: "They've been faced with a choice, to either reluctantly put up their charges or to go bust.
"They've been forced to pass those charges on."
Reading from the SNP letter she said: "The increase in [the] hire fee is…excessive to say the least…should this fee of £80 apply to future meetings I can confirm there will be no further bookings n dour business will be taken elsewhere."
Banff Springs Hotel increased room hire fees from £30 to £80
Ms Davidson added: "If the First Minister's own party can't support her policy, isn't it time she did something about it?"
Firms across the country are in uproar because the shake-up has left them with "crippling" bills.
Many are also hammered by the SNP's "super-tax" on large and medium-sized businesses.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has rejected calls to provide "transitional rates relief" to help firms cope.
He also refused to scrap the large business supplement, which last year doubled from 1.3p in the pound to 2.6p – although the threshold was lifted to £51,000.
Earlier, this month the Banff Spring Hotel's owner Charles Milne wrote to Ms Sturgeon urging her to review the rates proposals.
Mr Milne, who employs 66 people, said: "This huge increase will result in impossible trading conditions and will affect our ability to maintain the staffing levels and investment in the fabric of the hotel."
The disclosure saw Miss Sturgeon face derision across the Holyrood chamber just hours before the SNP's Budget was debated.
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The First Minister insisted firms could appeal to independent assessors and the expansion of the government's small business bonus scheme would lift 100,000 firms out of rates.
She added: "We have the most competitive business rates regime in the whole of the UK.
"We're the best performing part of the UK outside of the South East for inward investment.
"These are the success stories of the Scottish economy, and we'll continue to make sure we invest in the success of our economy.
"We will also make sure we protect our public services and we protect those on low incomes. That is what the Budget will deliver."
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