Back in October 2020, 38 leading tourism and business stakeholders, including many signatories to this letter, wrote to the Scottish Government to express concerns over the timing and impact of the short-term let regulations. The sector remains resolute in its belief that the proposed regulations will entail damaging consequences for Scottish tourism at a time when the sector can least afford it.
However, as developments have unfolded, this coalition of support has broadened to include other organisations, including the Scottish B&B Association and the National Farmers Union of Scotland. Moreover, it is notable that one of the most influential proponents of regulation, Andy Wightman MSP, voiced concern about what has been set out in the SSIs and argued that they should be withdrawn; while other MSPs have highlighted concerns over the scope and cost to operators, the tourist economy and local government.
Overall, it is our firm belief that:
Unfortunately, despite such concerns, the Licensing Order was approved by the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee on 3rd February 2021 by the slimmest of margins, with MSPs noting serious flaws in the SSIs. It is expected that the SSIs will be tabled for a vote in plenary at the Scottish Parliament in the immediate future.
With so many stakeholders now highlighting deficiencies in the plans, it is incredibly disappointing that there is no opportunity to amend the regulations. Given the importance of these measures to lives and livelihoods throughout Scotland, we need to get the regulations right at the first opportunity and not rely on revisiting the rules once implemented.
We would therefore respectfully recommend that the regulations are withdrawn by the Scottish Government.
Instead, it is our sincere hope that government will work constructively with affected stakeholders in the next parliament to devise balanced, proportionate and world-leading regulations that will support the sustainable recovery of Scottish tourism.
Proceeding with regulations that are not fit for purpose will merely compound the many difficulties faced by struggling businesses the length and breadth of this country. Let’s work together to get the details right for the benefit of everyone – business, visitors and local communities.
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