Tourism boss fury at council tax hike
Wednesday, 05, Oct 2016 09:52
by Ed Davies
Holiday parks operator Thomas Scarrott has lashed out at his local council for hiking council tax rates
In a fiery tirade against Ceredigion County Council in mid-Wales, Mr Scarrott, a director of Vale Parks ltd, was outraged at the tax hike, which he believes threatens his park's survival.
Mr Scarrott believes that some customers maybe deterred from going to the park as they have to pay the new council tax rates.
"If the authority's plan goes ahead, Ceredigon's tourism industry could be dealt a devastating blow, which will impact on hundreds of small enterprises," said Mr Scarrott.
"The council is sending out the message to holidaymakers that they are not welcome in the county, and that it would prefer them to take their spending elsewhere.
"The chalet owners are the victims of an "ill-considered and poorly thought-through" bid by Ceredigion Council to bolster its council tax income."
Thomas's family business owns five major caravan parks in the county, including Clarach Bay Holiday Village near Aberystwyth.
It's here that the owners of 143 holiday chalets have been told that they must all pay an additional 25% council tax each year - despite not living on the park.
"Using powers introduced by the Welsh Government they are intending from next April to charge a premium of 25% on the rates paid by second home owners.
"However, Clarach Bay's chalets are not second homes in which people can live, even though their owners already pay full council tax and don't receive the full council services."
Many owners, says Thomas, have already contacted him in distress and anger at the way they are being treated as "second class citizens" by the council.
A spokesperson for the council said: "As Welsh Government legislated to enable councils to raise a premium on council tax on dwellings classified as second homes, all councils needed to discuss this issue.
"In the case of Ceredigion, the discussion was had by all members, with the decision to raise the 25% premium being made by Full Council in a meeting on 24 March 2016.
"A full consultation open to all was held in February - March 2016 and, though the feedback was generally mixed, a majority of people strongly agreed with the introduction of the premium and believed that the introduction of the premium would have a beneficial effect on the local economy. Due democratic process was therefore rigidly adhered to.
"This decision will help to ensure that full use is being made of properties in Ceredigion in order to satisfy the needs of all the county's residents, an aspiration that is set out in the Council's Strategic Objectives for 2013-17.
"Revenue from the second home premium will be diverted to community councils, who will be able to use this money locally for the benefit of those communities."