Greens dismayed at Council timidity over bed tax

Steve BurgegssEdinburgh Council today decided against taking forward a Green proposal for a levy on visitors to the City – the so-called ‘bed-tax’.

Green Councillor Steve Burgess today proposed that the Council should seek a meeting with the Scottish Government to put the case for a visitor levy and discuss the need for enabling legislation, but was defeated by 12 votes to 4.

In December 2011, the Council’s agreement to a visitor levy in principle and call for a background report caused a storm of protest from city hoteliers and resulted in questions in parliament.

The subsequent report by council officials was downbeat about the prospects for a visitor levy and suggested investigation of a tourism Business Improvement District scheme.

Councillor Steve Burgess said:

“It’s hugely disappointing that Council Leaders have chosen not to go forward with a visitor levy.  Recent comments in Parliament from Fergus Ewing may not have been very supportive but he’ll only have heard the hoteliers’ outcry; he hasn’t heard the Council’s case and now we’ve just given up at the first hurdle.

“I looked very carefully at what theMinister said and although there are no plans for legislation to allow a bed-tax, the Minister also said the Government are always ready to engage with local government. If we want to make progress our leaders need to seize every opportunity and not just be put off by speculation.”