Coun­cil­lors dis­cuss overnight charge

Stirling Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Kaiya Mar­jorib­anks

Con­sul­ta­tion and anal­y­sis should be car­ried out be­fore Stir­ling Coun­cil in­tro­duce an overnight charge for vis­i­tors to the area says its leader.

First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon has promised that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment will look at the pos­si­bil­ity of fol­low­ing the lead of top Euro­pean destinations like Barcelona, Berlin and Am­s­ter­dam by giv­ing lo­cal au­thor­i­ties the power to in­tro­duce the levy if they wish.

It is es­ti­mated that a £2-a-night levy in the likes of Ed­in­burgh, which welcomes around four mil­lion guests an­nu­ally, could po­ten­tially raise up to £29mil­lion for lo­cal fa­cil­i­ties.

How­ever, some tourism gu­rus say there is a dan­ger that in­tro­duc­ing such as levy could de­ter vis­i­tors and back­fire.

At a full meeting of Stir­ling Coun­cil last Thurs­day, Green coun­cil­lor Alas­dair Tollemache asked coun­cil leader Scott Farmer if he sup­ported the “grow­ing con­cen­sus”that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties should be given greater fis­cal pow­ers, such as the power to levy an overnight vis­i­tor charge.

Coun­cil­lor Farmer said: “Coun­cils gen­er­ally have been fac­ing a chal­leng­ing po­si­tion, and are likely to con­tinue to do so in the com­ing years.

“As an al­ter­na­tive to re­duc­tions to ser­vice pro­vi­sion, coun­cils also need to be ex­plor­ing al­ter­na­tive fund­ing sources, ei­ther from in­creased use of ex­ist­ing pow­ers, or by ex­plor­ing new fis­cal pow­ers.

“Ex­tend­ing the range of fis­cal pow­ers will nor­mally re­quire the sup­port of cen­tral gov­ern­ment, who would be re­spon­si­ble for in­tro­duc­ing new leg­isla­tive pow­ers to en­able this to hap­pen.

“The coun­cil will be en­gag­ing in the di­a­logue that is tak­ing place be­tween COSLA and the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment about the pos­si­ble ex­ten­sion of fis­cal pow­ers to lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

“All pos­si­bil­i­ties should be con­sid­ered, and as wide a range of views as pos­si­ble should be gath­ered from all stake­hold­ers be­fore de­ci­sions are taken on the mat­ter.

“I know col­leagues in Ed­in­burgh and else­where have done a lot of work on a vis­i­tor levy, how­ever it will be suit­able for some ar­eas and oth­ers might not want it.

“It would be up to elected mem­bers in coun­cils to de­cide whether or not to ac­tu­ally use that.

“Hope­fully when that power is granted we will carry out an anal­y­sis as to what the po­ten­tial rev­enue would be or the ad­van­tage it could bring to Stir­ling.”

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