YP Letters: Council tax not a tool for social engineering in Yorkshire Dales

The future of the Yorkshire Dales is in the spotlight after a proposed council tax hike on second homes.
The future of the Yorkshire Dales is in the spotlight after a proposed council tax hike on second homes.
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From: Chris Coles, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire.

I UNDERSTAND that The Dales Home Owners Action Group had a meeting with Councillor Yvonne Peacock and members of the Richmondshire Council to try and reach some consensus over plans to increase council tax on a minority of homes in the Dales by 500 per cent. However she seemed to be implacably set on her ill conceived plan.

The proceeds from a council tax levy is to enable the authority to provide goods and services to the local population. It is not a tool for social engineering by imposition of a punitive and discriminatory tax. It is also extraordinary that she lays any demise of the Dales at the feet of holiday home owners, when it is the past policies of the council and National Park Authority that have so restricted business activity in the area. To encourage people to stay, they need work without a long commute to the nearest large towns.

From: Richard Lewis, Pontefract.

IF Coun Yvonne Peacock accepts that her strategy to increase council tax on second homes will reduce house prices (The Yorkshire Post, February 12), then she has surely lost her argument.

Why would first-time buyers or young families, however desperate they may be to live in the Dales, choose to invest their savings (and mortgage) into a depreciating asset which may well be impossible to sell at market rates should they wish to move elsewhere in the future?

From: Peter Rigby, Beamsley, North Yorkshire.

THE simple solution to the lack of bus services in the Dales is to change the law in Parliament so that unitary authorities can make their own decisions whether to charge pensioners for bus services in their area.

West Yorkshire has large numbers of commuters paying the full fare, out of which it is relatively easy to subsidise their concessionary travel. However, here in North Yorkshire we do not have large numbers of commuters. Our council provides £1.5m towards bus services, but ask North Yorkshire’s ratepayers where they would like to spend that £1.5m and I suspect it wouldn’t be on free bus rides.

Most pensioners could easily afford a £3 return bus fare. Those of insufficient means could apply for a “free” bus pass. As parish priest Neil McNicholas (The Yorkshire Post, February 14) writes: “Most pensioners are milking the system, rather than contributing to it.”

Few would disagree. The result of this “something for nothing” culture is that Dales buses have disappeared, despite the heroic efforts of well-meaning volunteers. I have invited our MP to raise this subject with the Chancellor. A rigorous reappraisal of the whole national bus pass scheme is urgently needed before the “farewell ceremony“ of the last Dales bus.

From: Jeff Thomas, Strait Lane, Huby, Leeds.

KEEPING buses on the road is becoming ever more difficult. The Government has to recognise that adequate funding has to be given to the local authorities to be able to provide these necessary services (The Yorkshire Post, February 13).

The monies should be “ring-fenced”. The time has now come for users of these services to “chip-in” a contribution of, say, 50 pence per journey from all concessionary pass holders, this step would go along way to keep rural bus services going. Not popular I suspect, but not much good having a free pass if their are no buses to use!

From: Richard Hirst, Burnsall.

RE the Yorkshire Dales, why not make parking in village streets for residents only? It would make tourists pay to use car parks or use buses to go walking.

Too many arrive early, park up for the day, go walking with a packed lunch and spend nothing in the villages they pass through.

From: A. W. Clarke, Wold Croft, Sutton on Derwent.

I WAS shocked to hear that a woman in Cumbria had to start a petition to persuade the Government that it is fair that women over 60 in England
should be entitled to an OAP bus pass. It appears that the women in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are in receipt of this benefit from the age of 60, but those who live in England must wait until the official age of retirement. England is rapidly becoming the poor relation in these islands.

Ring-fence cash for NHS

From: Bob Swallow, Townhead Avenue, Settle.

I AM not a political animal, yet I do agree with Vince Cable (The Yorkshire Post, February 13) when he advocates a one per cent rise in income tax ring-fenced for use with the NHS. I would like to see some go to education as well.

Taking matters a stage further to ease the demand on A&E in particular, I would advocate a £10 charge for their services. Furthermore how about a £50 levy for those idiots under the influence of either drink or drugs? If such a levy stopped some of the time wasters attending A&E, so much the better.

From: Roger Backhouse, Orchard Road, Upper Poppleton, York.

ANDREW Vine has brilliantly described the problems facing local government and the uncaring attitude of central Government (The Yorkshire Post, February 13).

Local government leaders warned this would happen. The Conservative Borough of Barnet pointed out several years ago that adult socal care costs were rising steadily with an ageing population. They predicted that these rising costs, plus those of children’s services, would eventually absorb almost all their budget leaving nothing for other services. I wish I could be sure the bankruptcy of a local authority would stir the Government. The Conservatives deserve to lose votes, but can Labour make capital out of problems facing councils?