According to the January cabinet agenda papers that were published yesterday, hidden away in the revenue and budgets report, is a section on how much EDDC would claw back from second home owners by charging the full 100 per cent council tax charge, as opposed to the current 90 per cent.

Cabinet members are being asked to back the revised position, which apparently is based on new government guidance, set to be in place from April 2013.

Just over a year ago (at the October 2011 full council meeting) I lodged a motion asking EDDC councillors to call on the government to scrap this discount.  The motion was swiftly intercepted by leader, Cllr Paul Diviani before a debate could start and instead was referred to the cabinet…… where it was killed stony dead.

At that time, the EDDC income from scrapping the discount was calculated to be around £29,000.  Now, officers say, the likely income would be £48,000, including other council tax changes, which could also take effect.

I am assuming that this time cabinet members will seize on the initiative as being a wonderful one and will support it wholeheartedly ….after all, an independent councillor has had no part in this report or recommendation!

On a serious note, it is a very good step forward indeed, if ridiculously long overdue.  I would actually favour increasing council tax further for second home owners. 

Homes that are empty for much of the year can have a negative impact on the economies of towns, as local shops and pubs do not get the custom they need to survive.  Some communities – particularly in Cornwall and the South Hams, have withered because of the large number of homes standing empty for much of the time. 

The problem of second home ownership is a huge one and it is increasing at a frightening rate.  We must do all we can to put the brakes on and protect our communities from dying on their feet.

Below are links to the blog-posts of what happened at a full council meeting and subsequent cabinet meeting in November last year, following Cllr Diviani’s speedy intervention to avoid it being debated as a motion.

The cabinet debate will take place on Wednesday 9 January 2013, in the council chamber, Knowle, Sidmouth.  The meeting starts at 5.30pm.

https://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/abolish_council_tax_discount_for_second_homes_-_eddc_considers_my_proposal/

https://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/flood_the_market_with_houses_to_solve_empty_homes_problem_say_east_devon_co/

See page 37 of the January cabinet papers here for more information on the initiative:  http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/combined_090113_-_public_version.pdf