Upper Dales councillor resigns as chair of partnership over second homes tax plan

Cllr John Blackie.

Hawes and High Abbotside councillor John Blackie has resigned as chair of the Upper Dales Area Partnership (UDAP) over a plan to increase council tax on second homes by five times the current level.

The partnership is run by Richmondshire District Council (RDC) and is made up local district and parish councillors, as well as other organisations in the Dales.

It examines issues affecting the area and approves small grants for community projects.

In his resignation letter, Cllr Blackie said he felt “distinctly uncomfortable in acting in any sort of official position – other than by election as the member representing Hawes & High Abbotside – in a Richmondshire District Council whose policies are having, or likely to have, a hugely detrimental impact on the social and / or economic well-being of the communities in the Upper Dales’.

He said these policies included the plan to charge second home owners in the national park at least five times the current council tax they pay in a bid to create more housing for local families.

Cllr Blackie said this proposal  would “seriously harm the very cause its promoters claim to have put it forward to support, and result in the young families that remain or are attracted to our Dales communities as the ultimate losers, through the damage it will cause to the local economy”.

He added: “I am passionate supporter of young families in the Upper Dales with a 20+ year track record I am very proud of in promoting their best interests – for example they need access to local services like The Little White Bus, the Post Office and the filling station in Hawes and I have been a key player in providing them.

“So I cannot stand idly by and watch such a misguided and ill-researched back of an envelope policy emerge without taking personal action to try to prevent the adverse and unintended consequences it will undoubtedly cause.”

Cllr Blackie said he was also unhappy about the cuts to the cleaning of the seven public toilets in the upper Dales and the street scene services in Hawes, and the district council’s submission to the Boundary Commission on changes to the ward structure in the Dales which he opposed.

He added: “The Upper Dales Area Partnership is closely identified with Richmondshire District Council, and because of my robust objections to the RDC policies above, and others far too numerous to mention here, I wish to put some clear water between it and myself in the future.”

The councillor said he would still take part in the UDAP from the floor of the meeting.

2 Comments

  1. It is very sad that Councillor Blacke has decided to resign over this issue. But as yet it has not been passed through parliament. If it does goes through just another way of getting tax. At least 2nd home owners spend their money in this country and not abroad. Plus interest rates are poor and another way to invest PLUS not all youngsters want to stay in the countryside.

  2. Hi Mr Blackie,
    My husband and I bought a cottage at Sedbusk in June 2016. We willingly paid the large stamp duty so we could own a home in the Yorkshire Dales which was our ultimate dream. Until October 2017 we spent on average 24 days each month at our cottage until my husbands sudden death in October. I have been back to Sedbusk three times for a week each time since and as soon as I feel strong enough I will be spending longer at the cottage. Talk of a hike in the council tax is really stressing me out as there is no way I will be able to keep my cottage and the dream we had of a life in the Dales alive.

Comments are closed.