Rates ‘madness’ could close restaurant

Marco outside the Battlefield Rest
Marco outside the Battlefield Rest

A top south side restaurateur has been left reeling by a council rates assessment which could leave him facing a monster bill of £33,210.

Marco Giannasi, owner of the landmark Battlefield Rest, opposite the former Victoria Infirmary, says the shocking 550 per cent increase would put him out of business after trading at the premises for 23 years.

The demand flies in the face of a U-Turn by the Scottish Government earlier this year, brought in after a nationwide barrage of criticism from the Scottish licensed trade.

Many licensed premises threatened by similar nightmare increases were feared set for closure by main trade body the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.

However the Scottish Government brought in an emergency measure designed to tone down many rates rises which were widely slated as preposterous.

But now Mr Giannasi is facing a new dilemma that puts at risk one of the south side’s best-loved venues.

He told the Extra: “From £6,200 I now have to face a bill of £33,210.

“We will have to close down if this insane assessment cannot be curtailed.”

He explained that licensed trade premises are continually hit by an anomaly in legislation that allows assessors to base estimates on a business’s turnover.

Trade associations regularly argue that turnover can bear little or no relation to actual profit, and that pubs and restaurants are frequently asked to pay exorbitant sums while giant supermarkets - which are also licensed premises, retailing formidable quantities of alcohol, sometimes pay just a fraction of the cash expected of their on-trade rivals.

Even with a possible rebate on appeal, Mr Giannasi has to face the threat of what he sees as ludicrous demands every time a new assessment is due - and after building an exemplary and iconic south side business from scratch says he is now being forced to think the unthinkable.

He said: “I am not the only one in this situation - however I am sure I am the only one of a few facing a 550 per cent increase.

“I employ 16 staff, and we all now very concerned for our future – how to destroy a business!”

He says there was a lengthy delay for an assessment in April, and that he knew he would eventually be facing a rise - which he accepted could even be a hefty rise of several thousand pounds.

“But I had no idea what I was about to be hit with”, he said.

“Even if it is resolved I am now in the position of having to explain to staff the possibilities forced upon me, while various plans will have to wait.

“Meanwhile in trying to get a fair result this assessment and appeals process is stoking the bureaucratic machine - it is a terrible situation to be put in.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council (which is not responsible for fixing the rate) said the new demand was difficult to understand - and said it would be investigated.