Falkirk garage owner blasts 'unfair treatment' in bid for vital COVID financial support

A garage owner claims his business is being “unfairly treated” by Falkirk Council in relation to the rates relief it’s fighting to prove it should receive.

By Jonathon Reilly
Thursday, 1st July 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st July 2021, 4:48 pm

David Henderson who runs D H Automotive/MRC Tuning Scotland in Middlefield Road, Falkirk, is seeking support from the local authority as he tries to get the firm on the road to recovery post-lockdown.

Last year, it took D H Automotive five attempts to obtain a grant from the Coronavirus Resilience and Recovery Fund.

Having received the welcome boost, owner David believed the business would be entitled to 100 per cent rates relief like fellow garages in the area, including Skidz in Bainsford, owing to the retail services it offers through its on-site shop.

A garage owner has criticised Falkirk Council over its handling of the business' application for rates relief. Picture: Michael Gillen.

However, David says Falkirk Council has yet to recognise the retail side of the firm and is demanding over £13,000 in business rates, as well as a “floor plan” and sales details.

He said: “The council recognised us last year as being retail by awarding us the grant from the coronavirus fund.

“They didn’t at first, so we fought it and it went to trial and they then awarded us the grant.

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“The way I was led to believe, they talked to a lot of other business owners round about. Those businesses got the grant and got rates relief which we didn’t.

“I wrote back to the council saying I wasn’t happy that other businesses got the grant and they were still chasing rates from me.

“They said I had to prove the business was a retail garage. We run two businesses: the tuning and the garage side. We have an on-site shop and run it as a retail store.

“They were trying to say, because the garage is there, they don’t recognise the retail side.

“It seems like one rule for one and another for everyone else.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We have supported many local businesses in the last year and continue to do so.

“Businesses apply for rates relief and awards are made where the criteria set by the Scottish Parliament are met.

"Eligibility for previous grant schemes is separate from this rates relief assessment.

“We only received information to support Mr Henderson’s application for rates relief last week. This is currently being reviewed and we will respond as soon as possible.”

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