A SCOTTISH Parliament Committee visited East Ayrshire as it searched for potential solutions into the problem of Scotland’s empty homes.

Recent National Records of Scotland data has shown that 105,000 (four per cent) of properties in Scotland are unoccupied.

The Local Government and Communities Committee travelled to Newmilns and Kilmarnock meeting with Liz King, empty homes officer for East Ayrshire Council, and Elaine Millar, federation and community council development officer for Vibrant Communities.

The committee also meet with various community groups during their fact-finding trip including New Cumnock Development Trust and Newmilns Regeneration Association, both of whom are focused upon regenerating their respective communities.

Representatives from Celebrate Kilmarnock also met with the committee, as they continued to gather information on the proposed Non-Domestic Rates, or ‘Business Rates’ Bill.

After the visit, convener of the Local Government and Communities Committee, James Dornan MSP, said: “I’d like to thank East Ayrshire Council, Celebrate Kilmarnock, the Newmilns Regeneration Association and the New Cumnock Development Trust for hosting us for a thoroughly useful trip.

“The committee has gathered a wealth of valuable information which will help as we continue our inquiry into Scotland’s empty homes.

“We’ve heard first-hand of the detrimental impact empty homes can have on communities and of possible solutions to help tackle this issue.

“This visit has also helped inform our consideration of the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill. We wanted to know what impact the current rates system has on the local high street and local businesses and how it could be improved.

“The views we heard will be of real assistance as we continue our scrutiny of this legislation.”