Glasgow MSP Anne McTaggart has called on the SNP Government to reconsider legislation that could result in the unnecessary demolition of unused buildings across Scotland.

Speaking in the Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Properties) Bill Stage 1 debate, Ms McTaggart called on the Scottish Government to revisit legislation which would further tax commercial and residential properties that have been left empty for a sustained period of time.

Under the Scottish Government’s proposals, commercial properties will only be entitled to a 10% relief after three months, in comparison to the 50% reduction they receive at present. This change will not only put considerable stress of businesses that are still feeling the effect of the economic downturn, it will also result in an increase in rates for the public sector.

It is estimated that Glasgow City Council alone would face paying an extra £1 million in rates, or otherwise be faced with either selling or demolishing its own buildings.  A consequence of this would be that Glasgow Council would be hindered in its own long term planning for the use of its buildings.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms McTaggart said:
“If this legislation were to be introduced in Scotland, Glasgow City Council would be forced to demolish buildings.  Buildings they would have otherwise held on to as part of long term regeneration strategies.

“And so we are faced with another example of the Scottish Government holding Glasgow back, rather than allowing it to prosper.”

During the last session of parliament, the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee slated the Financial Memorandum of the Bill, with the government’s own backbenchers placed in a position where they could possibly support the Bill.

Whilst Scottish Labour has welcomed this measure for residential properties which would take the government one step closer to solving Scotland’s housing crisis, it has called on the government to revisit legislation regarding non-domestic rates.

Ms McTaggart added:
“As a constructive opposition Labour will allow the passage of the Bill to Stage 2, where we will put it under considerable scrutiny.  However, before that, I encourage the minister to urgently revisit this legislation in order to ensure a financially competent Bill is passed at Stage 3.”         

You can watch Anne deliver her speech on this topic at 1:01.48 here.

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