YP Letters: Authority is wrong to target Dales’ second home owners

Second homes in the Yorkshire Dales could be subjected to a council tax surcharge.
Second homes in the Yorkshire Dales could be subjected to a council tax surcharge.
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From: Mr C Coles, St Albans, Hertfordshire.

I WRITE to you concerning the deliberations about an ill-conceived plan to impose a punitive tax on holiday home owners in the Dales. We are apparently a burden on society.

My family have been fortunate to have a house in Swaledale now for 15 years and in that time we have had to spend many thousands of pounds with local businesses in maintaining, rewiring, plumbing, decorating ... the list goes on.

We have also purchased two Land Rovers over the years from the local garage, made a point of fuelling up there even if there is a premium on the price. We generously support local enterprises – the Georgian Theatre in Richmond, the Swaledale Festival, the local shows etc. We buy everything locally and with our guests patronise the local shops, pubs and restaurants. Okay, we don’t have children in the local school, but is that really being a burden on society?

The National Park Authority and our councillors seem to ignore the fact that we wouldn’t be here if the previous local population had wanted to stay in the area. They sold their houses and their ruins (that the powers-that-be then gave their permissions to make habitable) to us. A whole industry has been established around the holiday home owner which wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for our huge investment in the area, giving the authorities an income when there was none before.

We are reliably informed by our farming neighbours that our own house was a ruin with sheep and cattle using it for shelter before our predecessors took it on and turned it into habitable accommodation. It now provides an income to the council of some £2,500 pa for a fortnightly bin collection, but only if we are not snowed up! Is that really a burden to the area?

Finally, where is the work locally to support all these new young families without a long commute? The truth is there is none – the very reason why they left in the first place. The businesses that are thriving are doing so because of the investment in the area by the ‘incomers’ – the ‘despised holiday home owners’.

Hopefully the Dales authority and our councillors will come to their senses, though the thought of being able to impose a punitive tax on an unsuspecting public will be very hard to resist. It will be the thin edge of the wedge, of course, and all council tax payers should be aware. This will come to you as well for some spurious, dreamt-up reason. After all, income tax was first introduced as a temporary measure, wasn’t it?