Rates relief blow for community and not for profit Moray firms

Two not for profit companies in Moray seeking assistance through reduced rates relief have had their requests knocked back by Moray Councillors.

Covesea Lighthouse Community Company and the Forres IT recycling firm Reboot Trading were both refused requests for discretionary rates relief amid fears that agreeing the requests would spark a ‘stampede’ by similar companies in Moray.

The Covesea Lighthouse Company was formed last year and successfully obtained over £300,000 from the Scottish Land Fund to purchase the iconic site and convert it into a visitor attraction.

Part of the property they purchased includes three holiday let cottages, with the profits from these being used to fund the attraction itself.  The group had sought 80% rates relief on the basis that they would be entitled to that because of the charity aims of the company.  Should their bid have been successful, they would have saved £801.85 in rates payments – all bar £200 of which would have been financed from a national rates pool.

However, three members of the council’s policy and resources committee representing the ward on which the Lighthouse stands spoke out against the bid.

Council leader Allan Wright said told the committee: “There are three other businesses renting out cottages and to give this one full rates relief would, I believe, create unfair competition.”

Lossiemouth-based independent councillor John Cowe added that he feared the move would “open the gates to others” while Hopeman-based Eric McGillivray added: “Unfortunately my worry is that it would set a precedent.”

The same argument was used to reject the bid from Reboot, a company that refreshes and resells IT equipment to the benefit of individuals and organisations in the region who might otherwise not be in a position to obtain such hardware.

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