Second homes council tax increase “killed off”, senior councillor admits

Muker in Swaledale. Photo: Guy Carpenter.

One of the key figures behind plans which could have seen council tax increase dramatically on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales says local communities have been “let down” by a no vote.

Last night, Richmondshire District Council voted by 13-12 against joining with other local authorities in seeking talks with government “on the options available for increasing Council Tax for second homes within the Yorkshire Dales National Park”.

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority chairman Carl Lis said the vote meant the council tax increase had in effect been “killed off” by the councillors’ decision.

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In a statement issued today, Mr Lis praised Richmondshire District Council leader, Yvonne Peacock, for ensuring it was brought before the full council.

Read our live report on last night’s meeting here.

He said: “It would be remiss of me not to make clear to the public that the proposition to talk to Government has in effect been killed off.

“In my view, the decision has let down local communities by stopping the conversation before it had properly started.

“Richmondshire District Council has rejected the view that too many second homes can have an adverse impact on the viability of local communities.

“It has also rejected the view that there are too many second homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

“I think many people living in the National Park will be staggered by those conclusions.

“It’s interesting to note that opponents to this simple proposition to have a conversation with Government on the second homes issue in the National Park have not put forward any of their own suggestions on what we should do to address it.

“What level of unoccupied and under occupied homes in our Dales villages do they think will present a problem, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%?”

Mr Lis said the Dales were characterised by strong, self-reliant communities.

He added: “But, there is no doubt in my mind that some of these communities have been considerably weakened in the past 20 years by – among other factors – the rapid growth in unoccupied and under-occupied housing.

“Empty houses do not make for vibrant villages. The dramatically shrunken rolls at some primary schools tell the story most powerfully of all.

“This issue isn’t going to go away and it is a source of sadness to me that all we have done is to pass these problems to the next generation to sort out.”

Mr Lis said the park authority would continue to work with local authority partners to develop the wider ‘Attracting Families’ initiative, of which the second homes proposition was one part.

He said: “Communities in the National Park still need more affordable housing, better broadband and greater sustainable economic development.  It will just be that much harder to deliver those things while we continue to lose the existing housing stock to second homes.

“Finally, I would like to thank the local and regional press and media for giving the second homes issue coverage in the past two months – and in particular for the editorials which were supportive of the proposition.”

In a statement issued after last night’s meeting the Dales Homeowners Action Group said: “Tonight’s vote is a triumph for common sense and effectively kills off an ill-conceived exercise which has already caused serious damage to the fragile Dales economy.

“What can be salvaged is an opportunity for everyone to work together for the common good.

“We look forward to putting this episode behind us and engaging in constructive dialogue about the future of the national park.”

 

4 Comments

  1. This is a vote for common sense..The Dales needs money from out of the area to fuel our economy. We do need more, better paid jobs and local businesses , politicians, and residents are striving for that. The initiatives to make all new homes, created in the Dales, for occupants with a local need will ensure there are enough houses to live in. We just need the economy and jobs to go with them.

  2. It is disappointing, though not surprising , that Carl Lis has failed to take any note of the overwhelming evidence against the second homes tax plan. If he cares to examine the facts he will see submissions by academic experts, legal experts, full time Dales residents and local tradesmen and licencees whose livelihood depends on a harmonious mix of people – including second home owners. But then the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has chosen to ignore the facts from the outset , to pursue a Corbynite policy borne of prejudice and ignorance. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious . They have already damaged businesses, jeopardised house sales and caused untold worry across the Dales. The councillors and chief executive who sponsored this proposal are not fit for office.

  3. Carl Lis and the Parks Authority are their own worst enemy, they wish to preserve the Yorkshire Dales as though it was perpetually 1954. They distort the property market with their anti business political views and draconian planning restrictions. There is simply no commercial imperative at the National Parks and thus there is little to no enterprise coming to re-locate to the Dales. The National Park have been allowed to become divorced from reality to pursue the Disneyfication of the area: we are not living in a chocolate box world this is a living working environment that is dying due to the meddling of the park authority. Interfere less and let the area grown organically like it did prior to 1954 and the Dales may very well spring back into life again. But their jobs depend on not allowing this organic change to the area!

  4. What a magnificent decision by Richmondshire Counsellors – Truly democratic. If you’ve lived and worked here for as long as I have, you will have realised that we are constantly dependent for our livings on tourism and agriculture and that those who pretend otherwise are living in a cloud-cookoo-land inhabited only by bureaucrats and unelected empire builders who seem to think that the bigger the area they cover and the salaries they are paid the better will their socially engineered policies benefit the rest of us. All my sons, educated locally, have left the area, not because of lack of housing, but because of lack of employment. If you want a more vibrant and forward looking community, spend our hard earned Council tax on providing meaningful employment.

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