30/09/23 – 06/10/23
The Colossal Cost to be Green, Holyrood Lobbying, but first…
Short-Term Let Legislation
went live on 1st October amid dire warnings particularly from B&B owners that the requirements are too draconian, too costly and will decimate accommodation in Scotland’s essential tourism industry.
The main objections surround costs, differing requirements between local authorities, data protection issues and intrusive council demands about the ‘fitness to practice’ of landlords.
The ISP is concerned about the numbers of properties taken out of local communities by Airbnb. But whichever side you are on in this debate, it appears another fudged piece of legislation which ‘bottom trawls’ and drags every property into the net. The anomalies show it is ‘ill thought-out’, with some restrictions and costs illogical and even draconian.
Is it too much to hope the government will rethink their plans with all interested parties, including tenants’ organisations like Living Rent? Going by their previous, that seems unlikely.
for more on this issue, go to the ISP website or ISP on Facebook and X.
With colleges and universities reopening, ‘spiking’ is re-emerging particularly for students but also for women on nights out. Glasgow-based charity Wise Women wants anti-spiking kits to be provided free for women at hospitality venues. Reports to police typically increase in September and October, and Police Scotland have received 605 reports since 2021, the majority involving women aged 17 to 26, with some having been sexually assaulted.
It is easy to say there is no spiking, ‘she just had too much to drink’. Conservative MSP Russell Findlay has proposed a Member’s Bill which is currently being reviewed by the Scottish parliament, which would require licensed venues to have testing kits and trained staff. He also proposes a new offence of possessing spiking drugs.
The Scottish Hospitality Group admits that spiking also occurs by injection. The hospitality industry runs schemes like Best Bar None Scotland to promote safe nights out and reduce crime and ByStander Awareness encourages everyone to take note of what is happening, intervene if safe to do so, or report it to staff. Chief Inspector Nicola Robison of Police Scotland is encouraging all who think they have been spiked to come forward to police.
Dark Skies over Mull
The lights have gone out, if not all over Mull, then in 3 areas which include a primary school, pre-school, car park and football pitch. The problem started 7 months ago, but with winter approaching there is still no solution. The lack of lighting at Ledaig car park in Tobermory led to two people suffering falls. Mull and Iona Ferry Committee say the council is wrong to blame lack of ferries, that they could have sourced spare parts over the summer, but they must also bring heavy equipment across. A solution may be in sight, though, with a ferry booking secured for 9th October, so the lights may come on again in time for winter.
The lack of democracy in the House of Lords was shown recently with two new hereditary peers being elected on just 23 votes. Lord Meston and Lord De Clifford got lifelong seats as crossbench peers, allowing them to claim £323 daily attendance allowance. They ‘qualified’ through birthright and an election speech of 75 words. They cannot be removed.
Hereditary peerages apply only to men, and when a vacancy arises through retirement or death, hereditary peers from their party or group can nominate themselves. The total electorate this time was only 32, and the single transferable vote saw 23 votes cast.
The costs of building the troubled Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa ferries have risen by a further £40 million in the last 3 months to almost £400 million at the same time as an emergency vessel, the MV Alfred, hired for £1m per month to plug the gaps, broke down due to gearbox issues. And with time scales slipping, the Glen Sannox may make its appearance over 6 years late and the Glen Rosa over 7 years late.
Now CMAL have said that they will not accept delivery of the two ferries unless their dual fuel system is fully operational, but there are issues with the final installation of pipework. Previously it was thought they could enter service and then be taken out again temporarily for refitting for dual fuel.
Almost a third of 37 MSPs who petitioned Humza Yousaf for a delay to the scheme were themselves lobbied by Airbnb. The University of Manchester and Ethical Consumer found that Airbnb have funded deregulation campaigns around the world by using ‘home-sharing clubs’, which are associations of landlords, recruited by the company to advocate on their behalf.
These clubs exist mainly in cities where Airbnb’s influence is the cause for stricter legislation, with a home-sharing club for Edinburgh creating a Facebook group in 2017. The report said these clubs encourage hosts with only one listing to lobby politicians and exert pressure for the whole sector, possibly distorting perceptions that it is mostly hosts with single listings affected, when it is in fact owners with multiple listings who distort the local market.
Dr Luke Yates, one of the authors of the report, says the sector presents particular housing problems with its ‘entire-home’ lets and multiple lets, and that home-sharing clubs can distort it to look like a spontaneous response when it is in fact coordinated by the company.
is governed by the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016, but is unrecorded if by an unpaid volunteer or volunteer board member. Firms with fewer than 10 paid employees need not register MSP lobbying; similarly, no record need exist if lobbying is by phone. Zoom calls can be unregistered if the camera stays off. Airbnb is a registered lobbyist.
But there are calls by among others tenants’ union Living Rent for reform of lobbying rules, arguing that the profits of the few are prioritised over the needs of the many.
Women have had to pay for life-saving cancer treatment after NHS delays due to lack of staff, with 50% more consultants retiring in the last three years. Sixty-two retired in Greater Glasgow and Clyde last year, 32 in the Lothians and 27 in Grampian, and research from Dundee University found nearly half of senior doctors over 50 intend to retire early. Delays can mean the difference between life and death, with only 67% of Scottish patients surviving a year, one of the worst rates in Europe.
Problems include months-long delays for diagnosis and tests, and surgery dates put back 12 weeks or more instead of the expected 4 weeks. Ovarian cancer is a leading cause of death for women, and campaigners are calling for the routine CA-125 blood screening test to be given to all women over 40. The cost of the test is just £40.
The Scottish government said it is investing £40m over five years to improve waiting times for cancer services, that more patients were treated on urgent pathways this year, and more than 9 in 10 cancer diagnoses are being treated within 31 days. They sometimes use private providers to plug treatment gaps, but one patient who funded her own surgery due to delays was refused a refund of costs by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde who said it was a ‘personal choice’!
Meanwhile Scots researchers have received £123 million from Cancer Research UK to research some of the deadliest cancers. Its work at the former Beatson Institute in Glasgow (now CRUK Scotland Institute) will support liver, pancreatic, bowel and lung cancers, plus general research into cancer growth and development. CRUK had earlier pulled funding out of clinical trials in Cardiff and Glasgow to focus on England, but it is hoped the new funding will redress this.
Senior judges have given evidence to Holyrood and may force a rethink of the SNP plan for serious sex crimes to be tried without juries, the establishment of a sexual offences court, scrapping the not proven verdict and reducing the jurors from 15 to 12.
Many judges are against single-judge trials without juries, concerned that it may breach the right to a fair trial and be outwith the competence of the Scottish parliament.
The Colossal Cost of Greening Up
Councils are concerned over Scottish government demands for net zero by 2030 and its cost. With Scotland committed to reaching net zero by 2045, MSPs also pledged to cut 1990 carbon emission levels by 75% by 2030; in other words, we must achieve the same progress in the next 10 years as over the last 30 years.
Glasgow and Edinburgh have pledged net zero by 2030, but will probably fail without considerable help from the Scottish government. The Scottish government will issue new plans in November, setting ‘clear asks for all of the main actors’. Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) is not keen on Patrick Harvie’s domestic decarbonisation plans, particularly replacing fossil fuel boilers with sustainable heating systems, saying as it stands they have no idea how to achieve this.
Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken told MSPs Glasgow needs funding between £4bn and £29bn, or about £3.6bn a year to 2030, and suggested the Scottish government could make the local government block grant conditional on transit to net zero, and possible ‘environmental taxes and revenue streams’, which looks like bad news for local residents.
Holyrood’s Net Zero Committee says net zero is not achievable by additional central government funding alone, but will need ‘private investment at scale’ in many sectors, especially decarbonising transport and buildings. But who will pay? Is it government, private finance or ordinary householders?
Meanwhile, far from penalties adding to its revenue streams, Glasgow City Council has spent almost £250,000 hiring vehicles to replace its own non-LEZ-compliant vehicles.
Scotland is a Region ….. in England
The UK Parliament website recently put Scotland in its place, describing it as a ‘region in England’. Plaid Cymru MP for Arfon, Hywel Williams, was the first to notice Wales was similarly designated. The UK parliament blamed a software error and have since corrected it. Funnily, England was not similarly described as a region of ….. England.
The creators of Ayr’s version of the famous Monopoly game must have had their crystal ball out when devising the new edition. Despite the Ayr Station Hotel being an iconic landmark in the town, it fell on hard times and finally closed in 2013. Then, this week, a fire swept through the derelict building and destroyed its spire.
But in an uncanny coincidence the game-makers had already omitted Ayr Station Hotel from the new version, which was issued only a few days after the hotel was gutted.
Spooky… well, we are getting near Hallowe’en….