Our latest opinion column is written by Pam Gosal, elected to the Scottish Parliament in May as a Conservative regional MSP for the West of Scotland...

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Helensburgh and the surrounding areas are often a magnet for tourists, whether they are from the central belt and west of Scotland or abroad.

The town’s proximity to the banks of Loch Lomond as well as its own waterfront, have long been key draws to the area.

It is for this reason that I am optimistic, yet anxious, for the future of the area. As the Covid-19 pandemic struck the entire country and economy, areas like Helensburgh that are heavily reliant on the summer season, and tourism in general, have suffered especially hard.

With hotels and hospitality closing their doors for months on end it was only thanks to the furlough scheme that people were able to make ends meet.

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We must use this as an opportunity to renew and rejuvenate areas. To support the local hospitality and tourism sector. But most importantly support local people and jobs.

It is for these reasons that I was horrified to watch as the Scottish Government was slow to support self-catering providers and B&B owners.

Now, the Scottish Government is bringing forward legislation that is tantamount to going after a fly with a bazooka. I was genuinely stunned when I saw how excessive this legislation poses to be.

Instead of taking a sensible and tailored approach to the AirBnB boom, the Scottish Government has decided to go for a “one size fits all” approach to regulating short term let properties.

This is only going to lead to more red tape, bureaucracy, and cost pressures to businesses at a time when they can least afford it.

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I want local businesses to know that I am in Holyrood to support them and those in the jobs that they provide to our local communities.

At the start of the year, pressure from opposition MSPs forced the SNP to shelve similar plans to introduce legislation regulating the short-term letting industry until after May’s election, it didn’t take them long to resurrect these damaging plans.

If they were willing to postpone the legislation until after the election, that would say to me that they knew, deep down how unpopular and damaging it could be.

I will continue to speak up for the local hospitality sector that is so crucial in providing livelihoods and jobs to so many people in Helensburgh and Lomond.

I want anyone in the local area who may be affected by the possible changes in legislation to know that I am always available to be contacted.

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