Fife licensees are to hold talks with the Scottish Government in a bid to halt the high number of pub closures across the region.
A deputation from the Fife Licensed Trade Association will meet rates adviser Ian Storrie in September to discuss the “unfair financial penalties” faced by pubs, clubs and hotels.
The move follows statistics showing 60 pubs have closed across Tayside and Fife since 2010, 30 of which were in Fife.
The situation has been blamed on an unfair rates system, high levels of beer tax and the soaring cost of securing licences to play music.
Association secretary Tom Johnston said it is vital a solution is found.
“Since a recent rates re-evaluation, I’ve had a lot of publicans coming to me saying they’re on the brink and they don’t know how much longer they can carry on,” he said.
“It’s the straw that’s broken the camel’s back. Some folk have appeals in so there’s a cap on increases just now but they’re saying if their appeal isn’t successful, then the doors will close.”
Mr Johnston said while some supermarkets had seen a reduction in their rates bills, levies for drinking establishments had soared.
In addition, licensed premises in some small towns are the only establishments to pay business rates, with smaller shops paying nothing.
“We’ve been continuing to argue the point with the finance minister,” he said.
“We asked him to answer a question, do you consider the rating system to be fair and if so, why? The response to that was do you want to meet with our rates adviser? We said yes.”
Meanwhile, an Angus licensee has written to local MP Kirstene Hair describing the challenge of high business rates and a huge increase in public performance licence fees.
David Bray, owner of the Star Hotel in Montrose, said he had been hit by a £2,000 bill from the Performing Rights Society and was shocked to discover the UK Government had been asked to increase the licence cost by a whopping 82%.
“The hospitality business is of vital importance to the Scottish and UK economy and this increase, were it to be permitted, would sound the final death knell for thousands upon thousands of pubs, hotels and jobs,” he warned.