On our return from summer recess myself and many other MSPs found our inboxes flooded with emails of complaint from many small businesses and accommodation owners, worrying about the Scottish Government’s short-term let licencing scheme.

I had the pleasure of meeting many local businesses such as Ashlea Farm Cottages on Arran when they came all the way to Edinburgh to protest outside the Scottish Parliament on our first day back. 

Their main complaint is that the Scottish Government’s new short-term let legislation confuses the issue of housing stock and supply with housing standards. It tries to address the former by implementing policies on the latter.

Its one-size fits all approach is nonsensical as it tries to compare urban problems - such as rogue Airbnb properties in Edinburgh city centre - with the well-regulated tourist accommodation sector in places like Largs, Arran or Cumbrae.   

Local councils already have the ability to set out licensing laws without the need for more cumbersome and expensive requirements being put on the sector. Many holiday let owners say they will simply close down and give up. It’s bad enough our ferries are struggling to get tourists onto our island, now they might have nowhere to stay too. 

I stood up for our tourist sector in North Ayrshire when it came to a vote in Parliament. I voted for a pause in these new regulations so the Scottish Government can better engage with the sector.

Unfortunately local constituency MSPs voted against such a pause, completely ignoring the many pleas from small local businesses. They now have you to answer to for that. 

I have also been focussing on the issue of CalMac’s removal of the monthly season tickets between Largs and Cumbrae.

As many island residents will know the introduction of CalMac’s new online booking platform has removed the ability of ferry users to purchase season tickets thus increasing the cost of daily commuting. Islanders on Cumbrae will hear from me personally on this matter in the coming days and I invite them to respond to my short survey on ferries when it lands on the doorstep.  

CalMac has also recently announced that the winter timetable will be reducing services across many of its routes saying that their fleet has been “stretched to its limits”.

The Arran route, for example, may potentially have to rely on third party providers to step in and will largely operate a single vessel service. So much for resilience and reliability. I don’t blame CalMac, the Scottish Government and its failure to deliver new ferries is entirely to blame here and it is a shameful mess.    

It is the job of government to listen to the very people that their policies impact most. I’m afraid to say all the evidence suggests we have a government in Edinburgh which isn’t willing to listen to the needs of rural, island and coastal communities.

I can but hope either they change their mind on these issues, or we will simply have to change the government instead!