Councillors set out opposition to further second home council tax hikes in Gwynedd
Councillors representing the two Gwynedd wards with the highest percentage of second homes don’t want any further increase in Council Tax Premium.
In a meeting of Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet this afternoon, Councillor Ioan Thomas, who has responsibility for Finance, will recommend a further increase of 50% for second homes from April 2023. It is also proposed that the Premium should be kept at the current rate of 100% for long-term vacant houses.
Gwynedd has the highest number of second homes in Wales. Currently, second home owners pay a Council Tax Premium of 100%. If the full council takes on the Cabinet recommendation at its meeting in December, second home owners will pay a Premium of 150% from next April.
Independent Councillor John Brynmor Hughes represents the Abersoch gyda Llanegan ward on Cyngor Gwynedd. This is the ward with the highest percentage of second homes in Gwynedd and Wales. He told Nation.Cymru: “I don’t think there should be any premium at all – it’s killing business. But there should be something in place. My preferred option is that every house pays council tax and if it’s a second home it goes up to the next (more expensive) band of council tax. If it’s an Airbnb then it should go straight to the top band.”
Coun. Hughes says that one restaurant has already shut down in Abersoch because of the cost-of-living crisis. He says local businesses, “depend on tourism year-round. I’m Welsh to the core, but we are killing the golden goose here. Tourism is all we have – yes, we have farming, but many farmers are dependent on tourism as well. Farmers have been encouraged (to diversify) and many have had planning permission to convert outbuildings to holiday lets. They’re very worried about this.”
In last year’s local elections Plaid Cymru increased its majority in Gwynedd. Coun. Hughes has no doubt that when the matter comes to a meeting of the full council in December, the Cabinet recommendation will pass. “Plaid Cymru will have the whip out – it doesn’t matter what individual Plaid councillors think. You’ve heard the Sandy Shaw song – like a Puppet on a String.”
Another Independent, Councillor Gareth Williams, represents the Pen draw Llŷn ward. This ward includes the village of Aberdaron which has the second highest number of holiday homes in Gwynedd. He doesn’t see the need for any further increase in council tax premium. But he’s also relieved that the Cabinet is not going for the full 300% premium that is allowed by Welsh Government.
Coun. Williams told Nation.Cymru: “I’m perfectly happy the way things are to be honest with you. I’ve been very worried about the impact this will have on local people who have converted outbuildings into holiday homes – especially when there was talk of up to 300% Premium. It’s a difficult one this – we could end up giving ourselves a good kicking here. It’s on everyone’s mind around here.”
Gwynedd Council’s Finance Cabinet Member, Councillor Ioan Thomas, will also recommend that any additional money that comes into the Council’s coffers as a result of the change should be earmarked for tackling the homelessness crisis. He says Gwynedd saw a 47% increase in homelessness numbers over the last two years.
A 28-day public consultation was held in order to help elected members decide whether to increase the Premium or not.
Coun. Ioan Thomas, said: “Of all the consultations the Council has carried out over recent years, this exercise has triggered the largest number of responses with more than 7,300 people taking part. I am grateful to all of them for taking advantage of this opportunity to voice their opinion.
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