Tory Senedd Member asks whether councils could be forced not to decrease spending on tourism
A Tory Senedd Member has asked whether councils in Wales could be forced by the government not to decrease spending on tourism if a tourism tax comes in.
The Welsh Government is currently holding a consultation on a tourism tax as part of their cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru.
But Conservative South Wales East Senedd Member Tom Giffard said that he was concerned that any money received that was ringfenced for tourism spend would simply lead councils to decrease other spending on tourism.
First Minister Mark Drakeford responded to ask whether it was now Conservative policy for the Welsh Government to tell them how to spend their money.
Tom Giffard asked: “I’ve seen claims from Welsh Government Ministers that seem to suggest that any proceeds from a tourism tax would be ring-fenced in some way so that councils can increase tourism spending.
“I’m not really sure how Ministers can make that claim, because the obvious current flaw is that, whilst the Welsh Government could ensure that any moneys raised could be ring-fenced, it doesn’t appear that the Welsh Government can do anything to protect councils’ existing tourism budgets.
“Unless there is that safeguard, we could see an introduction of a series of additional taxes across the country that leave no discernible mark on the amount of money being spent on tourism.
“So, can the First Minister clarify whether the Government has the power to force councils not to decrease existing tourism spending when introducing a tourism tax, and if so, would they use it?”
In response, Mark Drakeford suggested that he contribute to the ongoing consultation.
“We will certainly explore in that consultation the hypothecation of the money raised through a local tourism levy in order to support the services that local communities provide and that make tourism successful in the first place.
“If it is the policy of the Conservative Party that the budgets of each local council should be set here in the Senedd and that we should act to prevent local authorities—elected, by the way, by people in their own areas—from varying the investments they make in different parts of their responsibilities, well, that is news to me.
“I wasn’t aware that it was the policy of the Conservative Party, but if it is, there’ll be a chance for you to make that clear in the consultation.”
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Do the Welsh Tories ever make a statement in the Senedd and not get completely owned off the back of it?