Sadly, this situation is not new or unique. It is a direct consequence of a fundamental problem with Scotland’s regulatory approach.
The Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland has argued long and hard that every new set of regulations needs to be implemented in a consistent, proportionate manner by local government. Further, the Scottish Parliament needs to develop a better eye for legislative detail so that it can draft better, less ambiguous, legislation.
There will always be specific circumstances which might require a more tailored approach, but general agreement between councils about the circumstances that would or would not require fees across Scotland would seem a sensible way forward.
Beyond this, the disparity in fees charged by different councils for different regulatory activities is also a cause for concern – largely due to the perceived lack of transparency around “cost recovery”.
With the Scottish Government proposing to introduce a Better Regulation Bill, now is surely the time to face up to these questions and begin a constructive discussion on how we improve our regulatory environment.
Andy Willox OBE
Federation of Small Businesses