YP Letters: '˜Punishment tax' on Yorkshire Dales homes would have done no good

From: Michael Richardson, Leeds.

Should there be a council tax surcharge on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales?

AS one of the so called “outsiders” who has spent his entire working life dreaming about and saving for a holiday cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, the proposal to punish second home owners with a punitive 500 per cent council tax bill – now vetoed – left me with rather a sick feeling in the stomach.

Ignoring the legitimacy of this and the absence of any real evidence for such action, I firmly believe that a punishment tax on second homes, with no action whatever on holiday lets, would not have accomplished anything other than marginalising second home owners, encouraging them to find ways to avoid the tax in 
the first place and prejudicing the money they bring into the area for repair and renovation work 
on often neglected property.

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There’s also the matter of the money they pour into local pubs, restaurants and shops when they and their families visit.

For decades people have been moving away from the Dales to find work. And that will continue until there is better paid work in the area to keep people there. It’s called demographic change.

But the exodus was underway well before the surge in property prices and was driven by young people spreading their wings, going to college and university and not coming back.

This was obviously linked to job prospects elsewhere, but lifestyle choices come into it as well and the countryside became less appealing for the younger generations who wanted to broaden their horizons.

Also, this is a National Park, so by its very nature it is largely 
a tourist and agricultural area with service industry around that.

BT won’t open a call centre in Kettlewell any time soon and I don’t think anyone really wants them to.

Follow that with a couple of late-night bars in Grassington, a multi-screen cinema and McDonalds at Cracoe, a 
sports centre with floodlit all-weather football pitches near Starbotton and you will soon have a thriving urban sprawl that with good planning will stretch all the way from Skipton to Buckden Pike!

I’m being facetious of course but that is what so called “thriving” areas look like in 2018.

Second homers are portrayed as the villains here but, and I am sorry to say it, local people have been more than happy to sell at high prices or rent cottages out (their second homes in effect) as holiday lets.

That’s their choice but it doesn’t help the schools or local services one jot and this needs to be considered as the issue is revisited.