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Dales authority accused of not reflecting all members’ views in letter to second home owners

Coun John Blackie said he took exception to being associated with the views expressed by the chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in an open letter to second home owners about a proposed council tax hike.
Coun John Blackie said he took exception to being associated with the views expressed by the chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in an open letter to second home owners about a proposed council tax hike.
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The leader of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has been accused of failing to represent a collective voice of other members as he defended the proposal to increase council tax for second homes.

In an open letter to second home owners, park chairman Carl Lis explained to “hurt” second home owners why authority members had narrowly voted in for a tax hike for second homes within the boundaries of the national park.

But Richmondshire councillor John Blackie, who has been a member of the park authority since 1997, claimed a letter should not have been issued without consultation with all members first.

Coun Blackie, who runs a number of holiday cottages in the Dales which would not be subject to the proposed tax hike, said: “I take great exception to the issuing of the open letter in the name of the members of the YDNPA without any consultation whatsoever with those members, including myself.

“I disagree with much of what the letter says, and challenge many of the arguments contained within it, especially those put forward by Carl Lis, the chairman, on the subject of the non-devaluation of the local housing markets, which are in blatant denial of the law of supply and demand. His thinking beggars belief and I do not wish to be in any way associated with his false assertions.”

A spokesman for the Yorkshire Dales National Park said the authority did not wish to comment on Coun Blackie’s comments.

In the open letter to second home owners, Mr Lis had said that a tax rise was needed to address the perceived role of an “ever-increasing” number of second homes in the decline of Dales communities. He said the park’s had made the proposal because “the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the park cannot be effectively conserved and enhanced without strong, viable local communities”.

The authority has asked the eight tax-setting councils in the park to vote on whether they should work as one, and with the park, to open talks with government on the options for raising council tax for second homes within the park. A tax rise was initially mooted to be at least five times the current rate, equating to an annual £8,500 tax bill for a Band D home, but the proposal now excludes a specific rate rise.

As revealed in The Yorkshire Post, opponents of the proposed tax rise at the Dales Home Owners Action Group have written to Environment Secretary Michael Gove urging him to examine the authority’s role over “trying to exert political influence” by asking local councils to consider a tax rise on second homes.

A spokesperson for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed that the department had received a letter from the action group and that it will respond in due course.