YP Letters: Dales tax proposals are unfair to second home owners

Should a 500 per cent council tax hike be levied on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales?
Should a 500 per cent council tax hike be levied on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales?
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From: Hilary Roscoe, Chaigley Road, Longridge, Preston, Lancashire.

I WRITE as joint owner, with my husband, of a small property in Swaledale. I am a third generation owner of this property in Keld. It was bought and renovated by my great uncle in 1945, improving the house and creating a simple one-bedroomed annexe.

Since then, the house has always been lived in by local people and the annex used by our family for holidays. The house was sold in the early 2000s to the local farmers who continue to live in it; our family retained only the annex.

Over the years, we have carried out several improvements and renovations, always using local contractors and suppliers. The one-bedroomed annex is used by family and friends as well as ourselves; we all spend money in local businesses during our stays. Many of us have been regular visitors to Swaledale for decades – in my case for over 60 years.

The proposal as it stands is a very blunt instrument in the worthy cause of making more homes available, at an affordable price, to local people and other prospective permanent residents of Swaledale.

I understand that little or no analysis has been carried out to assess the possible impact of this proposal on the local housing market or on the retention/attraction of the families we would all like to see taking up permanent residence in the Dales.

Will any account be taken of the suitability of individual properties to meeting this target? Our own property, due to its size and configuration, is entirely unsuitable for a family and is most unlikely to attract permanent residents.

More generally, many isolated properties that might otherwise be abandoned appear to have been taken on by second home owners and thus saved from ruin. Such remote buildings are unlikely to attract permanent occupants. These owners, including ourselves, will be left with unsaleable properties and a vastly increased, enforceable, charge which could not have been foreseen in initial financial planning.

As second home owners, we pay full council tax and are content to do so. This already subsidises provision to permanent residents, since we will never make use of major services such as education and social services. In addition, we have no vote to influence local affairs – taxation without representation. I hope that the local authorities will accept that it is unfair to second home owners and damaging to the area as a whole and will reject it.