• Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Will limit new laws for landowners if elected first minister: Anas Sarwar

Anas Sarwar’s comments came in response to concerns from landowners about the numerous new laws being passed, including land reform bills and rent controls.

Sarwar said, ‘I gave what I thought to be a correct answer, it has proven not to be the case.’ (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Anas Sarwar has promised to halt the influx of new laws affecting landowners if he becomes first minister, aiming to reset the relationship between landowners and the Scottish Government.

Speaking at the Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) annual conference, the Scottish Labour leader criticised the SNP’s approach of continually introducing new legislation to address rural issues. He advocated for a collaborative and strategic approach instead.

Sarwar’s comments came in response to concerns from landowners about the numerous new laws being passed, including land reform bills and rent controls.

He assured that any new laws proposed by a Labour-run Scottish government would be thoroughly tested before implementation, ensuring policies are developed in partnership with those affected, reported The Telegraph.

Sarwar said: “The job of government is not to impose on you or to tell you how to run your businesses.” He proposed a collaborative and strategic approach instead of short-term solutions.

Conference attendees expressed concerns about the volume of new laws being passed at Holyrood, including another land reform bill and rent controls.

Jim Fairlie, the SNP’s agriculture minister, admitted there had been “far too much of an urban-centric” focus in recent policies, according to The Telegraph. He said the election of John Swinney as first minister and Kate Forbes as his deputy marked a “reset” in the government’s relationship with rural areas, as both represent rural constituencies.

The conference took place a day after a poll showed Labour leading the SNP in voting intentions for both the upcoming Westminster general election and the 2026 Holyrood election.

Senior SLE members noted that this was the first time a senior Labour politician had addressed the conference since the party lost power to the SNP in 2007. Sarwar acknowledged that the conference was “not natural territory for a Scottish Labour politician in recent years,” but emphasised that his presence showed he was leading a “changed Labour Party” focused on economic growth.

“I think for a lot of businesses across the country, a lot of landowners across the country, you will often feel like the policy is imposed on you and your community rather than designed in partnership. That has to change,” Sarwar said. He assured that any new laws proposed by a Labour-run Scottish government for rural communities would be “road-tested to destruction” before being implemented.

According to The Telegraph, research indicates that estates contribute approximately £2.4 billion annually to the Scottish economy, support about 57,300 jobs, and provide land for 14,000 rural enterprises.

Sarwar outlined his principles for governance, emphasising “collaboration and partnership” with landowners.

He defended the SNP’s land reform legislation but agreed with a delegate that the crackdown on short-term lets, primarily an issue in Edinburgh, had wrongly become “national policy.”

Sarwar also criticised Scotland’s planning system, noting that the average wait time for application approval in Glasgow was 78 weeks compared to 16 weeks in Manchester, The Telegraph reported.

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