Murdo Fraser MSP to write to Scottish Government over 'Central Belt' bias

Murdo Fraser MSP will be writing to the Scottish Government concerning the financial plight of a Perthshire publican who he feels has been harshly treated due to “Central Belt bias.”

The Scottish Conservative politician raised the situation facing Alyth pub landlord Dave Barclay, who runs the Airlie Street Bar in Alyth, with Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, at Holyrood.

Mr Fraser pointed out that there are “huge problems” across the hospitality sector and wants Mr Ewing to explain the discrepancy in Covid funding in different parts of Scotland.

Commenting, Mr Fraser, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, said: “I am writing to the Rural Economy Cabinet Secretary as this is a major issue. In my question to Fergus Ewing at Holyrood, I stated how the Alyth pub does not have outside space and does not serve food, so the current Covid restrictions mean that it has to close. If Mr Barclay’s pub were in the Central Belt of Scotland, he would be entitled to a grant of £4,310, but due to it being in Perth and Kinross, he will get precisely half that – just £2,155.

“Mr Barclay believes this is Central Belt bias and I agree with him.”

Mr Fraser continued: “There are huge problems right across the hospitality sector. Earlier this week, we learned that the historic Queens Hotel in Perth is facing permanent closure, with the loss of jobs.

“The Scottish Government has received an additional £700 million from the UK Government to help during the pandemic, bringing the total additional funding from the UK Government in the current financial year to £7.2 billion. I asked Mr Ewing how much of that money has been allocated to supporting the hospitality sector, but he responded by saying the Scottish Government does not have details of the £700 million support yet.

“Businesses like Mr Barclay’s are struggling badly just now and need all the financial help they can get. It’s time the Scottish Government got their act together on this matter.”

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