Nearly 2,000 people have signed an online petition in the last two days objecting to massive increases to business rates affecting companies in the North East of Scotland.
The huge response to the petition, set up by Scottish Conservative MSP Ross Thomson, comes as Finance Secretary Derek Mackay meets business leaders in Aberdeen to discuss the issue.
The SNP Minister agreed to talks with Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce and Aberdeen Inspired bosses amid growing anger about rates rises of up to 250% that have prompted warnings of job losses and companies going bust.
Mr Thomson, a North East Region MSP, said: “There has been quite an incredible response to the petition since it was set up on Wednesday, with more than 1,700 people already signing up.
“I think this illustrates the strength of feeling locally on this issue and is a timely reminder to Derek Mackay on the day he visits Aberdeen of just how serious this situation is.
“It is not scaremongering to say that jobs could be lost and that some firms will not be able to continue trading under these conditions.
“I hope that Mr Mackay will go further than his comments today which suggest he simply wants to pass the buck to local councils.
“It is quite incredible that a Finance Secretary who is cutting council budgets by £327million is suggesting local authorities should pick up the tab for this potentially devastating hike in business rates.
“It is a matter of record that Aberdeen City Council is the lowest funded authority in the whole of Scotland, with Aberdeenshire not far behind.
“I would ask where the money is supposed to come from when council leaders are facing further cuts proposed by the SNP government in Edinburgh for the year ahead.
“The latest figures on the large business supplement – with a staggering £15.4million being paid locally – further illustrate that SNP tax policy is punishing the North East economy.”