Edinburgh election 2022: SNP pledges £2bn to help tackle housing crisis

Fewer Airbnbs, fairer rents, two new tram lines and £2billion for social housing are among the promises made by the SNP as it runs for re-election to Edinburgh City Council .

The party, which has partnered with Labor to lead the capital since the last vote in 2017, today (April 16) launched its manifesto for the 2022 local elections.

Group leader Adam McVey described the manifesto as “a very strong set of SNP plans to meet climate change aspirations, reduce poverty, tackle the Tory cost of living crisis and improve our services base, and I think our prospectus is by far the strongest of any party to achieve that.”

READ MORE: Edinburgh Council election 2022: Who can I vote for

Cllr McVey, who is still the leader of the council until the start of May, said the plans set out in the manifesto will help make Edinburgh “fairer, cleaner and greener”.

He added that the most important of all the promises made by the SNP in Edinburgh are new housing policies, including plans to introduce rent controls in the private rental sector.

Councilor Adam McVey, Leader of Edinburgh Council

“A rent control is about making sure rents stay fair,” Cllr McVey explained. “If someone is going into a private rental, it’s about making sure the rents don’t go up under their feet to the point where they lose their own home.”

Asked how such a policy would work in practice, Cllr McVey said: ‘We will have to see exactly the shape of the legislation but there are properties which are priced at astronomical levels and what we need to do is prevent these rents to increase under anti-inflation conditions.”

The party’s pledge to solve Edinburgh’s housing crisis includes a pledge to spend £2billion on building and maintaining social housing over the next ten years, as well as returning thousands of properties currently rented to short term (STL) for residential use.

Enforcement of the city’s recently agreed “zone of control” will require thousands of people to apply for building permits for entire properties leased as STLs. The manifesto says permission will only be granted in “exceptional circumstances” and that any request to turn a house into a short-term rental in the city will be treated the same as a demolition of that property.

Cllr McVey said he hoped it would bring “as many properties back into the housing market as possible”.

“We have a housing crisis in the city, there is no escaping this. We cannot afford to lose residential houses, whether it is losing them to demolition or losing them to become short-term rentals and in terms of our housing market, it’s the same,” he added.

“There are circumstances that mean they are approved, so for example a ten-bedroom house somewhere in town may be more suitable as a large-scale short-term rental than a traditional domestic house with the way people are living now. So there are properties that claimants will be able to make a case for and it’s up to them.”

In response to the cost of living crisis, he added that funds would be set aside for those “who are most affected”. In addition, investment would be made to make the local authority’s housing stock more energy efficient, with a commitment to refurbish all social housing over the next ten years.

Another key commitment made in the 36-page manifesto is the introduction of a ‘tourist tax’ charging visitors staying in hotels, Airbnbs and bed and breakfasts a minimum of an additional £2 per night, capped at £14 .

Edinburgh SNP councilors are also reportedly greenlighting two new tram lines, one to Granton and another to the Royal Infirmary, as well as an extra £120million for road and pavement maintenance.

And while the SNP’s goal of net zero by 2030 was described as ‘impossible’ in the Conservative election manifesto, Cllr McVey said the council would be on track to achieve it if the party returned to the able.

He said: “The elephant in the room with the Tory manifesto is that they don’t set a date at all, they put climate change on the back burner. We don’t have that kind of time. Edinburgh needs to be in ahead of the Scottish target and the UK target if either government is going to meet them.

“The Center for Climate Innovation has done a huge amount of work on what Edinburgh should do to change.

“We need to decarbonize our transport system, which means low-emission city bus fleets and zero-emission bus fleets of new electric vehicles and we need to help facilitate them.

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“Edinburgh is already feeling the impact of climate change – we are seeing flooding in July because we are getting torrential rain which we haven’t had in previous years.”

He added that the party planned to introduce a congestion charge for people traveling to the capital at peak times, with Edinburgh residents exempt from the charge, to encourage more people to use public transport. common to enter and leave the city.

An SNP-led administration in the next term would plant 150,000 new trees in Edinburgh and “fill in the gaps” in the city’s cycle network, according to the manifesto.

The expansion of Gaelic Medium Education (GME) is also high on the party’s agenda.

However, no site has yet been agreed for Edinburgh’s first Gaelic grammar school, and parents remain frustrated that the commitment for a city center building has effectively fallen through.

Cllr McVey said: “We need to get as far and as fast as we can, but it really requires us to agree the right plan, which we hope to do at the start of the next administration.”

“We have looked at literally every possible site in the city and explored it to the fullest. We have to remember the pressures we face on this; the average Gaelic teaching in high school has increased by more than 50% in Over the past five years, that’s a huge increase. It’s proving to be increasingly popular in the city, and we need to provide the right school to encourage and facilitate that.

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