Concern Tweed taxes spent only in Scotland

Ladykirk lies on the north bank of the River Tweed, Norham on the south
Ladykirk lies on the north bank of the River Tweed, Norham on the south

A “cross border raid” on Tweed taxes on the Northumberland side of the river is feared by some English councillors as a result of the Scottish Government’s proposed wild fisheries reform.

A consultation about the proposed changes - which could involve disbanding the Tweed Commissioners in favour of a Scotland wide body to look after the country’s rivers - came to a close last week and the Scottish Government is now considering how to create a system “fit for the 21st century”.

In 2014 the levy on fishing interests, the Tweed tax, raised over £700,000, a third of that money raised on the English side of the river.

Dougie Watkin, a Northumberland County councillor, who lives at Norham, has highlighted the risk that the money raised from fishing on English sections of the river could be spent entirely in Scotland in future.

Earlier this week Councillor Watkin told BBC Scotland: “About a third of the commission’s funds are raised within England.

“That was the whole point of the commission because you could have this cross border rating system which everyone was happy with because the proceeds were spent in the Tweed Valley.”

Nick Yonge, clerk to the commission, said: “What the people on the English part of the Tweed are concerned about is they might be asked to pay a tax to the Scottish Government.

“There is a suggestion that might then be redistributed by the Scottish government and it might not all come back to the Tweed, which of course would be undemocratic.

“The Scottish government hasn’t said they are actually going to do that, but there is a concern that they might and it would, of course, be quite wrong to take English taxes and spend them elsewhere in Scotland.”

The River Tweed has long held a reputation for being well managed and Tweed Commissioners oppose the proposed changes to the national framework for managing Scotland’s wild fish resources believing that a status quo for the Tweed is the best way forward,

Nick Yonge said earlier this year: “The River Tweed already has such a system which works well and addresses the legal and administrative requirements of cross-border fisheries management.

“The River Tweed Commission is self-funding and does not receive financial support from central government either in Scotland or England.”