[The below article was submitted for publication as Gordon Macdonald's monthly column in the C&B News. The printed version may differ due to C&B News editorial considerations.]
C&B News Article – February 2020
We weren’t even one week back in The Scottish Parliament, and the SNP Government announced that local councils will be given new powers to control the number of short-term lets, such as AirBnB.
This news came after concerns had continually been raised about the impact of the level of short term lets on our local communities.
Edinburgh, alone, accounts for 31% of short term lets across Scotland. These short-term lets, such as AirBnB, are restricting the number of properties available for those looking for a home to live in.
It’s important that we strike a balance between the undeniable economic benefits of tourism to Scotland and the impact on local communities.
The Scottish Government’s plans are to establish a licensing scheme for short-term lets, review the tax they pay and give councils the power to limit the number of such properties in an area.
I am very pleased that the SNP has outlined this robust and balanced approach to tackling the issue and help secure the change we need for our city.
I have also been continuing my work to push for “Fairtrade Village” signage for Balerno.
Since achieving Fairtrade Village status in 2013, Balerno has had the right to display signs denoting Balerno as “A Fairtrade Village”. These signs can be placed on roads leading into the village.
The Fairtrade group and the Balerno Community Council have been trying to have a sign put up for the last six years, and I have been doing all I can to help see this happen.
To date, Edinburgh Council have advised that they are unable to allow Balerno the road signage – despite many such signs being erected around other towns in Scotland.
In a parliamentary question I asked before Christmas, the transport minister said that signs could be erected via the council’s planning process.
I am now speaking with Edinburgh council again to see how we can erect a Fairtrade sign in the village and spread awareness so that people can choose Fair Trade and make a real difference globally.