MORE than 1,000 signatures have been secured in just four days by the owner of a renowned Glasgow restaurant as he steps up his campaign against a massive increase in his business rates bill.

Marco Giannasi, who has owned the Battlefield Rest for nearly 24 years, said his bill for rates payable will rise by around 400 per cent because of the most recent revaluation of non-domestic properties, which took place last year. It means his annual bill will increase by £27,000 – if his current appeal bid to the local rates assessor is thrown out.

Mr Giannasi, who employs 16 staff, said the hike would be equal to ramping up the price of a cup of coffee to £10 at the restaurant.

And he declared the increase would seriously hamper his ability to invest in the restaurant for the long term, with the hike coming hard on the heels of increased wage, pension and utility costs.

The restaurateur has been highlighting his case to diners at the Battlefield Rest. In addition to the online petition, he is also running a paper petition in the restaurant. So far that has secured more than 200 signatures.

READ MORE: No end to business rates misery

Mr Giannasi said he is acting now because he is becoming frustrated with how long it is taking for his appeal to be heard. “I want the customers to understand what is behind [this]. No one understands why [my rates are going up so much],” he said.

“I have to maintain and refurbish the place like everybody else. In any circumstances this increase is not a normal

procedure for anyone.”

Mr Giannasi said there is no evidence to suggest restaurants in his neighbourhood have seen rates rise to the same extent. Some have seen their rateable values fall by £40,000. “There is something not tallying up,” he said. “No matter what, the increase is unacceptable. I don’t want to sit and wait to see what the outcome [will be]. I feel like a target. I’m protesting in my own way.”

The restaurateur’s new rates bill is based on the rateable value of his restaurant having risen to £67,500 under the 2017 revaluation, up from £16,800 five years previously. He insists there have been no major developments in the intervening period that could justify the increase.

Mr Giannasi said: “This is my 24th year, so there are no major surprises. I am quite stable on business. In the last few years profit margins have shrunk because of the different increases. It is still a good-going business, but for how long, because obviously we have this consideration sitting over our shoulders.

“I have investment to do in the business. What am I going to do? What is the priority?”

At present, Mr Giannasi only has to pay 50 per cent of his increased bill, under a transition arrangement to provide temporary relief for those moving from

receiving a discount to having to pay full rates. Businesses with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £18,000 are entitled to rates relief of 25%.

Mr Giannasi said he has also been

frustrated by the response he has received from the assessors when he asked them to explain why his rates have increased to the extent they have. “I just want a plain English explanation for how they have come about it,” he said. “I don’t know how anyone can accept it. I’m not disputing an increase, because everybody had to have increases. I wish I could increase my coffee to £10 a cup.”

He added: “If the business is not profitable, there is no point in trading. What is the point to put me in that position [where I have to] cut all the net profit I need to enable me to reinvest and keep a safety net for the business?

“If I have got to pay that money I may as well get a job with the council, end of story.”

Mr Giannasi’s protest follows a major campaign by The Herald last year which highlighted the massive increases in rates businesses were facing because of the most recent revaluation. The Scottish Government moved to put a temporary 12.5% cap on rises in rates payable in the immediate aftermath of the campaign, which highlighted the fact many hotels, restaurants and bars had seen their bills rise by as much as 400%.

The Scottish Government is currently in the process of implementing a series of recommendations to reform the business rates system following a review led by former Royal Bank of Scotland heavyweight Ken Barclay.

Mr Giannasi questioned why the assessors use turnover when calculating rates for hospitality businesses such as restaurants, claiming that it would much fairer if net profit was used in the methodology. However, that is not one of the changes the Scottish Government is considering.