YP Letters: Punitive council tax rise could reverse village revival in Dales

Should second homes in the Yorkshire Dales be subjected to a council tax surcharge?
Should second homes in the Yorkshire Dales be subjected to a council tax surcharge?
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Have your say

From: Sue Shackleton, Gunnerside, Richmond.

DO second homes really have a bad effect on the rural villages of the Yorkshire Dales? I am not so sure if you look at the recent history of Gunnerside. One sunny Saturday in late September 2013, I went to view a holiday let which was for sale (Robert Flather, The Yorkshire Post, February 1).

On arrival in the village at change overtime, I was greeted with the smells and sound of cottages being cleaned. There was not a soul around, the car park was full of cars with cleaning equipment, the pub was up for sale and the teashop had closed for the season.

In 2014, I bought the holiday cottage and just after purchase read a very sad article published by The Yorkshire Post stating the second homes had killed Gunnerside and there was only one child left in the village.

Fast forward to 2018. If you visit Gunnerside now, you will find the pub is open every day. It has two tea shops, the number of holiday lets have been reduced and replaced with a mixture of permanent and second home owners who are friends with each other and bring life to the village.

The village has two inexpensive properties for sale and these have been available for well over a year now. It also had some low-cost rental flats which nobody locally wanted to rent so they has to be opened up to a wider area to get occupancy.

Gunnerside has come back to life naturally and the introduction of the 500 per cent-plus tax on second homes could stop the village’s new-found vibrancy and maybe even cause it to reverse slowly back to its 2013 state.

From: Mike Betterton, Low Row, Richmond.

I HAVE read the recent open letter from Carl Lis, the chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP), regarding the proposed 500 per cent increase in council tax for second home owners (The Yorkshire Post, January 31).

He concedes that to solely blame second home owners for local services which are being cut back or closed would be “absurd”, before going on to try and reassure residents that his proposed policy will not result in a fall in house prices across the National Park area because “the number of second home owners is not high enough to dramatically alter house prices”.

This is odd because the whole argument of the YDNP and some local politicians who support the policy rests on the premise that young families are unable to afford to buy homes at present because second home owners have inflated house prices. It appears that Mr Lis wants to have his cake and eat it.

The truth is that the law of supply and demand will apply. If more houses come onto the market because of this policy, then they will be more difficult to sell and prices will fall across the board. The effect of this will not just be felt by second home owners, but also by the huge majority of other householders who are not second home owners, and who would also see the value of their home fall.

From: Peter Horton, Sandy Lane, Ripon.

THE proposal by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to ask local town halls to increase council tax on second homes in the Dales is quite outrageous and fails to recognise the true purpose of local taxation.

Council tax is gathered by each council to finance the provision of necessary services in its own area of operation. It is not a tax designed to penalise a particular group of people in the local area.

Indeed second home owners, who only occupy their properties in the Dales for short periods of time, are, by definition, using a far smaller proportion of these services than full-time occupants of local housing. Therefore, it could be considered that second home owners should pay a lower rate of council tax to reflect their lower use.

Recognising the problems of housing and employment for local Dales people, the YDNP should seek alternative solutions and abandon this wholly inappropriate discrimination against one group of people.

From: Robin Ashley, Sheffield Road, South Anston, Sheffield.

I FIND it depressing that the demographics of the Dales have changed so dramatically over the years, mainly due, I believe, to the lack of employment and low-paid jobs. Whilst increasing council tax may be unpalatable, it doesn’t seem to me as it will affect too many locals in certain villages. The system is clearly broken and should be fixed. If council tax rises bring this about, then so be it.

Wise words over Brexit

From: Brian Sheridan, Sheffield.

ON rare occasions I am so impressed by a newspaper article that I cut it out to save. Such was your edited version of the Rt Rev Nick Baines’s speech in the House of Lords on the EU Withdrawal Bill (The Yorkshire Post, February 1).

The Bishop of Leeds’s impartial appraisal recognises the complexity of the situation but stresses the real concern – a low level of debate that extends beyond the predicable crassness of social media. The words alone, “Brexiteers” and “Remainers”, have both acquired an adversarial connotation as correspondence becomes ever more personal. One can only hope that time will heal.

In praise of Country Week

From: Molly Preston, Austwick, Lancaster.

I WOULD like to pass on compliments to The Yorkshire Post on the Saturday supplement Country Week, it is my favourite read of the week. I really enjoy the regular contributory articles, they are always full of interest.

A long-haul alternative

From: Barrie Crowther, Walton.

FURTHER to Roy Aspinall’s letter on Leeds Bradford Airport (The Yorkshire Post, January 31), is there a reason why Doncaster Airport, with one of the longest runways in Europe, is not utilised more? Surely it could cope with long distance flights now restricted to Manchester?