The latest figures indicate that there are now more than 12,000 properties listed in Edinburgh – that’s one Airbnb listing for every 42 residents.
A lot of these short-term lets are located in the city centre, focused in the Old and New Town, hollowing out our city centre and turning it in to one big tourist trap rather than a place for residents to live and work.
After years of campaigning for action from the SNP Scottish Government, from local residents and MSPs like Andy Wightman and I, it looks as though they will finally crack down on short-term lets by committing to the introduction of new legislation that will subject them to the same rules as hotels and B&Bs. Rightly so.
With the summer and Fringe festival once again approaching, residents across the city will fear the annual influx of Airbnb visitors. The endless clunk of suitcases being hauled up stairs, the late night knocks at the door from Airbnb guests at the wrong flat, the excess noise created by the so-called party flats and all the associated anti-social behaviour and litter that goes along with that.
Introducing better regulation to ensure our city centre isn’t hollowed out for short-term let opportunists at the cost of local residents is essential to retaining the character and nature of Edinburgh, so this is a welcome move. Handing the council the power to control the number of lets they allow is crucial, and local residents will welcome a long overdue change.
Vox so popular is a warning to Europe
Over in Spain there have been some mixed electoral developments. The Socialist Workers’ Party won 123 seats but fell short of securing an overall majority.
What is concerning is the 24 seats gained by the far-right Vox party, the first far-right grouping to win more than a single seat in Congress since the death of dictator General Franco in 1975.
While the result is not the political earthquake Vox was hoping for, it is still a worrying development. Something we are seeing spread across Europe.
Vox promised to “make Spain great again” – a reworking of President Trump’s slogan, and it talks tough on Islam and immigration, similar to France’s Le Pen. The Vox Party leader, Santiago Abascal, says he wants “a reconquest of Spain” referencing the Moorish control, which ended in 1492. Someone should really let him know.
The populist and nationalist Vox Party was helped by the recent push for Catalan independence, when many believed Spain’s traditional parties did not handle the situation well. The separatist movement in Catalonia has opened up another political fissure in Spain, that far-right groups are happy to exploit.
We are not in a position to judge these divisions too harshly as we are engulfed in our own with Brexit and the prospect of another Scottish independence vote. What is important is that all politicians act responsibly, refrain from indulging in dog whistle politics and reject wholeheartedly the type of views peddled by parties like Vox.