Airbnb lobbying revealed as SNP and Tories water down regulation (The Ferret, 24 May 2019)

  • Airbnb lobbying revealed as SNP and Tories water down regulation

  • By Joe Lo. Published in the Ferret on 24 May 2019

  • Summary:

    • Green MSP Andy Wightman aimed to combat some of [Airbnb's criticised] effects through an amendment to the planning bill going through parliament. This would require planning permission for anyone turning a home into a commercial let.

    • But Tory tourism spokesperson, Rachael Hamilton MSP, has said she plans to table a rival amendment which would mean people would only need planning permission to change a home to a commercial let in certain areas rather than the whole of Scotland.

    • Hamilton said her amendment would give councils control over how they deal with the issue. “Somewhere like Edinburgh can tackle problems head-on where they see fit,” she said, “while more rural areas where there isn’t that pressure can continue going about their business.” (...)

    • Now new data from the Scottish Parliament’s lobbying register shows that Airbnb’s policy officer, Marie Lorimer, met twice with Hamilton and Conservative housing spokesperson, Graham Simpson MSP, to discuss the amendment – once in December 2018 and once in February 2019. Lorimer also discussed the planning bill with Simpson in August 2018.

    • In November 2018, Lorimer also met with Scottish business minister, Jamie Hepburn MSP, to discuss “regulation of the collaborative economy – including tourism and short-term rentals”.

    • Airbnb also employs a specialist Edinburgh-based agency called Halogen Communications to lobby on their behalf. According to one of their clients listed on their website, Halogen’s “contacts are excellent”.

  • Keywords: Edinburgh, Scotland, Scottish Parliament, MSPs, United Kingdom, UK, lobbying, Airbnb, Halogen Communications, tourism, tourist apartments, Andy Wightman, Rachael Hamilton, Marie Lorimer, Graham Simpson

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