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Short-term let legislation would 'penalise' Moray B&Bs, says Moray MP

By Alan Beresford

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NEW legislation on short-term lets will "penalise" Moray B&Bs and self-caterers, the region's MP has warned.

The Scottish Parliament's Local Government Committee has voted to pass new rules aimed at regulating the AirBnB boom in Edinburgh.

These plans include a requirement for landlords, B&B owners, and self-caterers to secure planning permission and obtain a licence or face fines of up to £50,000.

A survey by the Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers, which found that half of self-catering businesses in Scotland would close if the legislation were introduced.

Moray Conservative MP Douglas Ross accused the Scottish Government of rushing through the legislation and challenged the region's SNP MSP Richard Lochhead to put his constituents' interests before party loyalty.

He said: “Last week, I spoke to more than 120 frustrated B&B and self-catering owners from across Scotland, many of whom have received little in Scottish Government grant support during the pandemic.

“The clear message was that these businesses are fighting for survival and need all the help from politicians that they can get.

“It is disappointing, therefore, that the local government committee have voted in favour of these rules that will penalise businesses here in Moray despite Scottish Conservative members voting against.

“I think we can all understand the desire to regulate the boom that we have seen in Edinburgh, which has put a great deal of pressure on housing and led to anti-social behaviour.

“But Moray is not Edinburgh. While this may help address a problem in urban areas of the Central Belt, it will be hugely damaging for businesses in rural areas.

“It is not too late to make changes to this legislation. I would urge all MSPs, and particularly Moray’s MSP, to stand up for rural businesses.

“Richard Lochhead must do what is right for his constituency – not his party – when this comes to a vote at Holyrood.”

Now that the plans have been approved at committee stage, all MSPs will have the chance to vote on the legislation before it is passed into law.

Also voicing his misgivings about the proposed rules was Visit Moray Speyside chief executive Laurie Piper, who said the legislation was designed to “fix a Central Belt issue which is of little relevance to us in Moray”.

However, Mr Lochhead said that the planned legislation delivered a "balance" between safety standards and local flexibility.

“The proposed regulations will give local authorities new powers to licence short-term lets and introduce control areas, to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism benefits of short-term lets.

“There are concerns around short-term lets across Scotland, albeit the nature and intensity of those concerns does vary in each area. During the consultations, and in ongoing correspondence, the Scottish Government has heard from residents across the country, including rural areas like Moray, who have highlighted a range of concerns about short-term lets including impact on local housing supply, and noise and anti-social behaviours.

“These proposals deliver a balance by achieving national consistency on safety standards, whilst giving local authorities flexibility to tailor the scheme to their local needs.”

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