Golf clubs could face crippling costs if a recommendation to remove business rates relief from them is implemented following on from the Barclay Review. Gordon Lindhurst MSP highlighted this potential issue for the ancient Scottish sport in the Scottish Parliament today.
During questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs in the Scottish Parliament, Lindhurst questioned the consequences of such a move. The Barclay Review, published in August looking into the system of non-domestic rates, recommended that business rates relief be removed from golf clubs with significant assets who “are not the intended recipient.” It also raised the prospect that golf clubs using land classed as a public park, and which currently pay no rates, be brought into line with those that do.
Gordon Lindhurst asked:
“Is the Cabinet Secretary/Minister concerned about the potential effects on tourism to Scotland if business rates are dramatically increased for some of these courses, which could lead to higher green fees and closure altogether?”
The Cabinet Secretary responded by appearing to dismiss the concerns, saying that “high net travellers” come to participate in Scotland’s good quality golf and that consideration had to be made as to what is fair and appropriate.
Speaking after asking his question at Holyrood, Lindhurst said:
“The Barclay Review brought forward some welcome recommendations and others that are require further consideration. One of those is taking away relief from some golf clubs and we need to know more about what this means, who it would affect, and whether the government supports it or not.
The Lothian Region that I represent has a long history of golfing with many world-renowned and ancient courses right on our doorstep. These clubs attract tourists every year in Scotland who pay significant sums of money to come here and play. Not only this, but they provide a welcome opportunity for young and old alike to engage in this sport with all the benefits that an active lifestyle bring.
Increased green fees, or worse, golf courses closing as a result of having to pay huge new bills which they previously didn’t and can’t afford could be hugely detrimental on all levels.
Courses in the region have come under significant financial strain in recent years and we have already seen closures, such as Torphin and Lothianburn in Edinburgh Pentlands. More golf courses could be in real trouble if they lose their rates relief and I hope that the Government will conduct a full and proper impact assessment before making any changes.”