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Nanette Milne, 11/02/2004

Northeast Scotland MSP Nanette Milne has high hopes that her motion brought forward to protect a small Community Centre from excessive water charges, will be debated in the Scottish Parliament.

Twenty three MSPs have added their name in support of Mrs Milne’s Motion which calls for an urgent review of the water charges exemption criteria for charitable organisations.

Udny Station Community Centre has been crippled by high water charges that have claimed almost a quarter of their annual income, despite very low usage.

Mrs Milne comments: “Under current rules, charitable organisations that were not in receipt of relief prior to April 1, 1991 are not entitled to exemption. This is a major concern for small organisations such as Udny Station Community Centre, which previously were able to pay the small annual charge, but which now are crippled by astronomic standing charges.

“I contacted Scottish Water who were extremely helpful, but explained that they were unable to make exceptions for cases that fell just outside of the exemption criteria. Graeme Smith of the Water Consultation Panel confirmed that this has caused the Panel some concern and that they are keen to see a review started soon

“I am therefore, left will no other option but to bring this to national attention to highlight some of the difficulties that small charitable organisations are now facing.

“Small community centres like Udny Station are the lifeblood of rural communities. If they are forced to close due to excessive charges, Scout groups, church groups, theatrical groups and the future of a host of others will be put in jeopardy.

“I hope that my motion will be selected for debate. It has already attracted cross party support. If we all work together, I am confident that we will see some movement on this issue”

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