Shops seek £5m tram rates relief

HUNDREDS of businesses affected by prolonged tram work disruption could be in line to receive compensatory discount rates, some saving up to £250,000 a year.

A total of 223 Edinburgh shops are understood to have lodged compensation claims estimated to be worth more than £5 million for lost revenue due to tram work disruption. About 100 businesses on Princes Street could be the first to receive a 20 per cent discount or equivalent compensatory package. For large traders such as Primark and Marks & Spencer, which each pay more than £1.2 million in rates, this could mean a yearly saving of about £240,000.

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The Lothian Region Assessor is considering the claims while carrying out evaluation of the impact of the latest round of tram works in the area. About 100 smaller companies in the city’s West End are in line to get a rates reduction that could save them up to £10,000.

The payouts could mean a further burden on the taxpayer already footing the bill of £776m for the tram route between Edinburgh Airport and St Andrew Square.

Graham Birse, director of policy at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “We approached the assessor and asked for relief as work has taken longer than expected, meaning the impact on businesses has been much more severe.”