Readers' Letters: Government is right to push forward short-term lets licensing

Campaigners gather outside Holyrood to protest short-term let licensing plans (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)Campaigners gather outside Holyrood to protest short-term let licensing plans (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
Campaigners gather outside Holyrood to protest short-term let licensing plans (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
The Scottish Government is right in not backing down on short-term lets licensing, not least in order to safeguard users. While one can sympathise with bed and breakfast establishments where the owner stays permanently on site, few will have sympathy for owners of whole house short-term lets that deprive local residents of housing opportunities. In the Highlands and Islands locals, including tradesmen, tourist and hospitality staff, struggle to get anywhere, never mind affordable, places in which to stay.

In Edinburgh and Glasgow, if two-thirds of whole house Airbnbs were sold by their owners and bought for residential use, it would mean thousands of additional homes and help restore local communities. Many of those complaining and refusing to register are burying their heads in the sand as they have known about the proposals for years, and were even given a six-month extension in which to register.

Former MSP Andy Wightman pointed out in his blog that “hundreds and possibly thousands of STLs in Edinburgh have been operating unlawfully for many years”. In research he conducted in 2020, he examined all the STLs on the Valuation Roll for Edinburgh and discovered that of 1,609 properties being used for commercial short-term letting, a mere six had planning consent to operate as STLs”. Right to Buy council houses have a clause stating not to use the premises for commercial purposes as will most other domestic title deeds.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Rich pickings

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Humza Yousaf's recently expressed exciting ideas for Scotland include not ruling out wealth taxes to punish those who create Scotland's prosperity.

Shona Robison, his Finance Secretary, is suggesting “delivery of the most progressive tax system in the UK”, which should have alarm bells ringing the length and breadth of the land. “Progressive tax” is a nuanced way of describing eye-wateringly high taxes on enterprise and hard work; bad enough in itself.

However, Mr Yousaf also seems to be attracted to the STUC idea of taxing people on their investments, including property. This could entail residents in many areas in Scotland, including central Edinburgh, West-End Glasgow and Aberdeen, paying £8,000pa because of the value of their houses. Maybe SNP people can explain how having a house gives anyone £8,000 loose change to fund expenditure that will be squandered?

A cautious Finance Secretary and First Minister would be looking to expand Scotland's economy, but that doesn't interest Mr Yousaf, it seems. He has no ideas in that regard at all, apart from spouting forth meaningless platitudes.

“Wellbeing Economy Secretary” (whatever that means) Neil Gray claimed Scotland's economic potential would be “unleashed” when Mr Yousaf made his statements this week. What has actually been made plain is that Mr Yousaf, Mr Gray, Ms Robison et al are taking a leaf from the Robert Mugabe Book of Excellent Economic Ideas. Mr Mugabe was advised by Julius Nyerere, “You have inherited a jewel. Keep it that way”. Instead, Zimbabwe became an economic basket case. Scotland is racing down the same track.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Raise basic tax

Our First Minister stated that his party and, presumably with the Green Party supporters, his government back a progressive tax system. By definition, the FM describes such a system as one where those who earn more money have to pay more tax.So what’s new! When William Pitt the Younger introduced income tax in 1799, those who earned more money have had to pay more tax, so we in Scotland have always had a progressive tax system. Pitt’s progressive income tax began at a tad less than 1 per cent for those earning over £60pa and increased to a maximum of 10 per cent for annual incomes over £200.

So many supporters of independence, including the government, are very good at comparing Scotland to certain of our European neighbours. Perhaps to fund the shortfall likely to arise in the 2024-25 budget the government will take up the suggestion in yesterday’s paper from political economist John McLaren and raise the basic rate of tax (rather than just the higher rates) and make Scotland a country similar to those in Scandinavia, that is, a high tax, high social benefit country rather than just one with a progressive tax system.

Ross Scott, Edinburgh

No shift

I’m puzzled by Les Mackay’s assertion that young people are, and as they age, remain pro-independence according to the quoted Professor Lindsay Paterson’s findings (Letters, 7 September).It’s been nine years since the referendum, during which time a lot of young people have reached voting age (especially as it was reduced to 16) and a lot of older people have shuffle off this mortal coil. So why does the most recent poll show a persistent 52 per cent against independence?

Lorna Thorpe, Alyth, Perth and Kinross


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So Brian Bannatyne-Scott wants a “balanced view” of a clearly oppressive regime in comments on its domestic policies and its support for another oppressive regime's unprovoked aggression (Letters, 8 September). Presumably he means balanced as in 1939, that at least the trains ran on time?

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Free Scotland

Martin O'Gorman suggests that post independence, Scotland will he transferred to Second World status, if only in the FM's “fevered imagination” (Letters, 7 September).

I completely agree – who wants to be in an imaginary Second World country rather than going for fully blown Third World status, which is where we are heading in reality if we remain chained to the carcass of the English state? A crumbling infrastructure, dangerous school buildings, a health service on its knees, more and more billionaires profiting from the asset stripping encouraged, nay welcomed, by both Labour and the Tories, and a reduced rating from Standard & Poor’s. What's not to like?

Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh

Green silence

Neither Patrick Harvie nor Lorna Slater were prepared to even mention the anniversary of the late Queen's death at Holyrood. Mr Harvie got upset when someone called him out recently on another matter where he felt wronged. Does he not realise he has upset many Scots by not showing any respect for their views in this instance?

This suggests a one-sided approach. Are the Greens really representative in our national forum? Mr Yousaf needs to deal with this ongoing problem of the Greens. Will he?

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

​Don’t panic

Are the authorities being just a bit overzealous in their bid to catch an escapee from Wandsworth? Reports suggest he was a low-ranking soldier who wanted to tell secrets to the Iranian government. It must be doubtful he'd have very much to say. So to close the air and sea ports at huge costs to the UK economy is surely overkill, symptomatic of the "All Problems are of Universal Size" syndrome driving our country to the edge of disaster whenever a small cloud appears on our horizon.

Corporal Jones of Dad’s Army could at last be right: “Don't Panic”.

Stan Hogarth, Strathaven, South Lanarkshire

Free for all

The news that Police Scotland will conduct a pilot project in the North-East of Scotland aimed at reducing the type of crime they investigate must surely encourage the petty criminals in that area. Gone is any deterrent effect in that criminals can now officially believe that the police will not pursue them.

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What has happened to the statutory obligation on the police to investigate crime? Now complainants who report criminal activity will be faced with the likelihood of the information being quietly filed away, never to see the light of day again. Criminal statistics may even show a reduction in crime due to victims not bothering to make a report in the first place. When then Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill started tinkering with a police service which was operating perfectly satisfactorily, we were promised a more streamlined and efficient centralised police service. Government under-funding and reduced local accountability has brought the opposite and now, with Police Scotland focusing on restricting the type of crime it will investigate, we are faced with a real cop-out!

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Come on boys!

From the man in the moth-eaten Scotland 1990 Grand Slam pullie. I’d ask readers, regardless of political persuasions, to join me in wishing Gregor Townsend and our strongest, and possibly best ever, squad, with success against the South Africans tomorrow. We have some seriously world class players, capable of defeating a strong SA line up.My son-in-law is a Zimbabwean and will support SA; my other son-in-law is English, so family loyalties somewhat stretched over the weekend.

Doug Morrison, Cranbrook Kent

Panda ring

So Edinburgh Zoo is returning the pandas to China… can we rename them So-Long and Bye-Bye? Aw go on!

Steve Hayes, Leven, Fife

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