Tourist tax, STLs and trams top the agenda - Cammy Day
I’m proud that the council continues to support our festivals, an integral part of Edinburgh’s identity, heritage, and international appeal. But I’m equally aware that this comes at a cost. It’s crucial, then, for us to strike the right balance between promoting our city while looking after the people who live here all year round.
That’s why we need a visitor levy to help us manage the impact of a successful visitor economy while benefiting our residents and businesses, and it was great to see strong support for our latest plans. We’ll continue to work closely with the industry and other stakeholders to fine-tune our proposals in the coming months.
Equally, we remain committed to addressing the growing number of short-term lets (STLs) in the city and, while acknowledging the strength of feeling on both sides of this debate, STL controls being introduced by the Scottish Government on October 1 are an important step in the right direction.
With less than two weeks to go until the deadline, we’re continuing to work with the sector to ensure everyone understands what they need to do to operate within the law. We’re urging all operators to apply and have published clear guidance on our website at edinburgh.gov.uk/shorttermlets
The tram is now a familiar sight on Leith Walk, and it’s clearly proving extremely popular with passenger numbers doubling in the first weeks and remaining high across the network. In August, Edinburgh Trams celebrated a record-breaking month, with more than 1.2 million customer journeys recorded.
Contractors are putting the finishing touches to improved public spaces, as well as cycling wheeling and walking facilities, along the route too. This will be complemented by a brand new island at Picardy Place, which is nearing completion and will soon provide a welcoming space to travel through or spend time in.
Last week we welcomed an old friend back with the return of the Sherlock Holmes statue. The sculpture, which is a memorial to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and marks his birthplace, has been in storage and under refurbishment over the past five years, so it’s fantastic to see him taking pride of place at the top of the Walk.
As we mark the first day of Organ and Tissue Donation Week 2023, it’s a sobering thought that more than 7,000 people in the UK are currently waiting for a life-saving transplant. We’re doing all we can support this great cause week here in Edinburgh. From lighting up the City Chambers and the EICC, to supporting our colleagues in government and the NHS, to lending a hand to fundraisers, I’m hope we can help make a difference.
Only 1 per cent of people die in a way that makes organ donation possible, which means every donation is precious. And we can all play our part by registering our decision to be a donor or opt out. Over half of people in Scotland have done so, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. If you’re over 16 and yet to record your decision, please visit organdonation.scot
Cammy Day is City of Edinburgh Council leader