Campaign cued up to save recording charity after bank accounts are frozen

Alastair McPhee at Cue and Review
Alastair McPhee at Cue and Review

HARD-hearted council chiefs have been slammed for pursuing a charity over a disputed bill.

Cue and Review, headed up by Alastair McPhee, supplies blind and partially-sighted clients with free audio recordings of papers, magazines and television.

However, it is facing a £16,000 rates bill.

Charity chiefs bought their own building, in Crowhill Road, Bishopbriggs, in 2004 after facing the possibility of their recording studio being sold.

Cue and Review’s ‘enterprise arm’ – Deanwood – lets out 19 units in the building to local organisations.

Councils are given discretionary powers to give such organisations 100 per cent business rates relief if they are concerned with charitable activities.

But East Dunbartonshire Council chiefs apparently insist that Deanwood is NOT a ‘not for profit’ organisation and refuse to even consider offering rates relief – leaving them with the huge bill.

The charity’s bank account was recently arrested by council debt collectors, leaving their supporters furious.

Kim Macleod, who rents accommodation from the charity for her ‘Happiness Club’, said: “Without the support of Cue and Review the club would have struggled due to a lack of suitable premises within Bishopbriggs.

“Alastair McPhee is a very committed local resident who has done a lot, not only for the blind and partially-sighted people who receive their recordings, but also for the community.

“This has left the charity in such a difficult position that they face closing the doors for good.”

Kim has set up a Facebook campaign calling on the council to stop hounding the charity – and she says they have already won support from bestselling authors Val McDermid and Ian Rankin.

Mr McPhee hopes to meet with the council, but said he was “not hopeful” about a positive outcome.

He added: “Our bank account was arrested on June 22, meaning we are now unable to pay our mortgage or utility bills.

“If we do not have any electricity our tenants will move out and then it will be in the hands of our banks. It is more than likely we would then have to close.

“The council are making us feel as if we are benefit cheats and are treating us in the same fashion.”

Ian Black, head of finance and ICT at East Dunbartonshire Council, said: “The council will not comment about any ongoing disputes, however, registered charities qualify for rates exemption and organisations which are eligible for relief, such as the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme, also receive discounts.

“The council’s practices are based on and compliant with all relevant legislation and guidance and we are required to pursue debt from any ratepayers where a liability is established.”

Visit www.facebook.com/SaveCueReview for more info. Turn to page 12 for this week’s letters.

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