August is an incredibly busy time in Edinburgh. The Fringe is starting alongside the International Festival and soon to be joined by the Book Festival. I'm proud to be the MP for the majority of Fringe venues, and for the Fringe Society. Last month I joined up with Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Fringe for a meeting with the then Secretary of State at DCMS to discuss continued funding.
But being a city with so many visitors isn't without its challenges. Many of you will know that I have long supported a tourist tax (or transient visitor levy to give it it's official name) and I hope we are moving closer to that. I have also been campaigning for regulations on short term letting such as Airbnb. Not to stop those who want to let their flat out for a few weeks during August or have someone lodge in their spare room but for those who are making this into a business and damaging our communities in the process. The Scottish government consultation closed during July and you can read my submission here.
I was delighted to be at the awards ceremony for Edinburgh University's degree access course. An excellent new initiative designed to help people without traditional school qualifications get into full time study. Congrats to Emily and her course mates. It was also good to chat to Jenny Hoy and Peter Mathieson about extending the University's outreach work into parts of Edinburgh East.
I met up with Council Leader, Adam McVey, at the Edinburgh Climate Festival in the Meadows this month. I'm proud that our Council is aiming for Edinburgh to become a Zero Carbon City. The festival was a cracking family day out with a very serious aim.
Great to see the new Portobello Bookshop going like a fair during its first week. It was a pleasure to meet the founder, Jack, and pick up some summer reading. There are also some new places to have a drink and/or something to eat. The Portobello Tap has opened on the High Street and I popped in to see the team at The Boathouse on the Prom too. Porty just became an even better place to live/work.
Time is running out for many of Edinburgh's small businesses. Today I've written to the Chancellor asking for additional emergency assistance for our hospitality sector through the COVID-19 epidemic.