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Labour and Conservative square up over second home taxes

The two main political parties have squared up to each other over the issue of increasing council tax on second homes in one of the country’s biggest tourist hotspots. 

Labour campaigners are demanding for local authorities to have the right to impose double the standard local council tax on second home and holiday let owners in Cornwall.

They claim this would raise £25m per year, which could be spent on affordable homes, especially in those communities where the high volumes of holiday properties have - according to Labour - pushed up prices for local people.

"Whatever economic benefits we get from holiday lets, the impact they have on the housing market down here - and the availability of housing for local families - is enormous" Labour councillor Cornelius Olivier has told BBC Cornwall. 

The county already has at least three locations which have voted in referendums to endorse local plans restricting the sale of new-build homes to local residents or those with local connections only, with restrictive covenants preventing those properties being let out to tourists or used for holiday home purposes.

However, one of Cornwall’s Conservative MPs - Derek Thomas, who represents tourist and holiday home hotspot St Ives - says doubling council tax is not the answer. 

"The high streets that I represent in Helston, St Ives and Penzance could not survive if we didn't have a buoyant tourism industry that is fed largely by holiday lets” he says.

"Ultimately, council tax is about providing services, so you pay your council tax in return for a service. It shouldn’t be seen as a cash cow for people we think we should penalise" he has told the BBC.

  • Nichola Taylor Cockayne

    Targeting tourists spots in Britain like this will drive more people abroad on holiday. It's already quite pricey for families to go away in the UK, with many popular spots in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Canary Isles, Greece and Turkey available for about the same or less money. Not to mention more predictable weather. To damage the UK tourist industry at this point would be a bad idea. Let's be honest, the tax rise would be footed by the people staying there on holiday.

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