Tory MS criticises calls for luxury caravan and chalet owners to pay council tax
A Tory MS has criticised calls for a council tax hike to be imposed on luxury caravan and chalet owners.
Janet Finch-Saunders, who represents Aberconwy, has complained about the “anti-tourism rhetoric” of those making the calls, which she described as “misguided”.
She argued that caravans are an “essential asset” local holiday parks and that their owners spend “their hard earned money in local hospitality and retail establishments”.
A suggestion that people owning caravans and chalets at Welsh holiday parks should be subject to paying council tax was made during a debate on Gwynedd’s setting of the council tax premium.
It was argued that even lower end static caravans at such parks can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to buy, and while once a summer preserve, recent years have seen a flurry of applications to open such parks all year round amid changing holiday patterns.
Yet while their owners usually pay the parks an annual fee of several thousands of pounds, including a contribution to the overall business tax bill, Cllr John Brynmor Hughes believes that existing regulations should be amended and that their owners should contribute more to council coffers and be themselves liable.
Having spoken against the rising of the premium levied on second and empty homes in Gwynedd – which was raised to 100% last April – he compared some of the higher end chalets and static caravans to homes in their own right.
Speaking against the proposal, Finch-Saunders said: “The owners of these caravans usually pay our local holiday parks an annual fee of several thousand pounds, including contributing to the overall business tax bill. They are an essential asset that ensures the parks’ longevity and invest in our region.
“Beyond spending their hard earned money in local hospitality and retail establishments, these individuals are also a crucial link of support for a our service sector, paying local employers for everything from electricity checks to gas delivery.
“I will continue to confront the misguided and rising anti-tourism rhetoric that is being fed by the coalition partners in Cardiff Bay. Only last month were we rightfully celebrating the hard work and benefits of such businesses at the Go North Wales Awards. We cannot let this be undermined by short-sighted interventions in the market.”
According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, speaking during Gwynedd Council meeting last week, Cllr Hughes, an independent member for Llanengan, said: “As you know I’m against the 50% and 100% (second home premiums), in my view a house is a house and every house should pay tax based whatever band they’re in.
“I wouldn’t like to know how much we’ve lost in this area (due to transfers to non-domestic rates), but one thing I’d like to say is where we’re losing out most is the caravan parks.
“A caravan, even a tourer these days is like a bungalow, they have bedrooms in them and are huge, but they’re barely paying any tax.
“We have caravan parks open all year round, they’re not paying at all.
“Say a chalet on the Warren (in Abersoch), I’ll name it, can cost between half a million and a million pounds yet pay £100 in tax, its a joke.
“We are losing taxes here yet they use our roads, dispose of their rubbish, they use the public toilets and everything a house would use. I think that we’re losing there.
“When you go abroad you have the tourist tax. I’m against the 100% (premium), I always have been, but I think we’re losing out especially during the pandemic when caravan parks are springing up everywhere.
“I would suggest we look at this again and pursue the caravans.”