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Expose of chaos in Scottish S/C published by The Telegraph


The journalist (Ruby) has done an excellent job of highlighting the car crash that is STL Licensing implementation in Scotland. I hope that it is an object lesson in what not to do elsewhere.

It could have been one system for all of Scotland that could have started as a self-registration scheme to establish an accurate measure of the scale and types of S/C properties serving the market using a handful of dedicated staff. Instead it falls to hugely overstretched Planning and Licensing authorities in 32 different Councils creating parallel yet differing solutions, each subject to the vagaries of the local political sentiment of the day. It's created an immense amount of confusion and very very little clarity.

But the one thing that's missing is the actions of some Councils in this farce. Yes, the SNP/Green administration is clearly culpable for releasing such a dog's breakfast into legislation with little heed paid to the frantic flagging of operators and the ASSC that it was going to create a car crash. However, once it was in the statute books it provided a perfect vehicle for councils minded to do so, to weaponise it to achieve entirely different objectives.

This is precisely what the City of Edinburgh Council is up to, having not allowed a single (already operating) S/C business in the city to receive what amounts to retrospective planning permission, for something which was previously permitted, to continue to do what they were doing prior to the law coming into force. This is just downright unethical behaviour.

Meanwhile the Council does deals on brownfield sites across the city to allow new aparthotels to take up residence. So the Council is axing locally owned S/C operators under the veil of STL Licensing (planning) whilst cutting sweetheart deals with foreign investors to take up surplus office and retail space that, given we are in a supposed housing crisis might just possibly have been better repurposed to affordable homes.

Honestly, it's either brilliantly evil in its genius, or utterly incompetent. It's impossible to know quite which because the real discussions that take place behind closed doors in Edinburgh City Council make it impossible to know which groups are the driving force.

Is it the unelected executive branch telling Councillors what to do and think or something else? We do not know. But we can see the effect and begin to measure the real impact it will have on both individuals trying to keep their livelihoods and the wider tourist economy in Scotland.

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