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Notes from FSB Highlands & Islands Chairman’s Desk

Life has been as busy as always, but rather than list all of our activities I thought that I would select just a few, writes Regional Chairman Amanda Frazer.

In April I, along with two other members and David Richardson, attended a Barclay Rates Review Commission session in Inverness. Our mission was to contribute a Highlands & Islands voice to the debate about the future of business rates in Scotland. Amongst other things, we argued strongly that the retention of the small business bonus was essential for the welfare of small communities in this region.     

We also promoted FSB Scotland’s local authority manifesto in local papers, highlighting two issues in particular.

We are calling for all councils to reject the introduction of a new tourist bed tax outright, something that is still being discussed despite it being rejected by the Scottish Government; and we are calling for Highland Council to increase the amount it spends on goods and services with smaller local businesses. This has dropped from 33% to 23% over the past four years, at a time when most other northern councils have sought to maintain or increase the amount they spend locally. Money spent with small local businesses really helps local economies!

We organised a very useful meeting for a group of members drawn from the tourism sector with VisitScotland’s chief executive, Malcolm Roughead. Malcolm gave a very positive account of VisitScotland’s activities and this was followed by a general discussion on the issues impacting on our region.

Finally, we have started running #FSBConnect networking events in Dingwall, the idea being to offer members a platform to meet other members to discuss general and specific business issues, share experiences and promote themselves – sometimes with a guest speaker present. Dingwall is our regular spot but if you are interested in helping to organise an #FSBConnect event in your area please email david.richardson@fsb.org.uk