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Exclusive: Scottish dealers express frustration at lack of clear guidance for reopening on June 29

Time 11 months ago

Car dealers in Scotland have expressed their frustration at the lack of clarity over the news that showrooms can reopen on June 29.

Volvo dealer and twice-British Touring Car champion John Cleland was expecting to reopen on June 19 to take advantage of weekend trade.

But as of the afternoon of June 18, he had received no clarity on whether his dealership – Clelands, in Galashiels – could open on June 19 or even June 29.

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‘We, and Volvo, were anticipating opening tomorrow – June 19 – but we haven’t even been told that,’ an exasperated Cleland told Car Dealer Magazine. ‘We even have staff unfurloughed in readiness for reopening tomorrow.’

He added: ‘It’s madness that garden centres have already been allowed to reopen and yet car dealerships up to 800 square metres can’t – showrooms are more spacious than garden centres!’

Cleland expressed sympathy with the Scottish Motor Trade Association which had ‘been working hard’ on getting clarity on the guidance, but the Scottish government hadn’t been clear enough, he said.

‘We just need to get on with this. England has a one-month headstart on us,’ he said. ‘I don’t understand the delay.’

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He also called for a 100 per cent relief on business rates from March 23 to a month after June 29 to help struggling showrooms.

Cleland’s frustration was shared by Jim Reid of Jim Reid Vehicle Sales, based in Kintore, Inverurie.

‘It’s an absolute disgrace,’ he told Car Dealer. ‘We haven’t officially been told yet we can open and the guidance from the Scottish government hasn’t been clear.

‘Restrictions ease on June 19 allowing single-person households to meet up with one other household, and yet dealerships have to remain shut until the 29th. Why would you have a phased phase two? It doesn’t make sense.’

Reid said his business had been ready to open for months, and was installing sneeze screens and introducing sanitisation methods even before the official lockdown.

‘We are ready to go and yet we have to wait,’ he said.

Dealers should be reopening on June 29 as, like England, they come under ‘non-essential’ retail.

The Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) told Car Dealer Magazine earlier this month that June 19 or 22 were believed to be the dates mooted for non-essential retail to reopen as part of the second phase of the Scottish government’s route map out of the crisis.

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As such, it had written to the government pleading for dealerships to get the green light on the earlier of the two dates in order to take advantage of weekend shoppers.

Like showrooms in England, Scottish dealers have been able to offer click-and-collect/delivery services to customers and keep servicing facilities open.

Earlier today, SMTA chairman Sandy Burgess told Car Dealer Magazine of his disappointment and dismay at the further delay.

James Batchelor

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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