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THE HERALD FRIDAY OCTOBER 7 2016


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3 News Council tax hike sends wrong message CEREDIGION COUNTY


COUNCIL has declared war on small businesses throughout the county and is threatening both their survival and the jobs they provide for local people. That’s the view of holiday parks


operator Thomas Scarrott, who has circulated a press release to media outlets, claiming that many of his customers are going to be forced to pay swingeing new council tax rates. If the authority’s plan goes ahead,


said Thomas, Ceredigion’s tourism industry could be dealt a devastating blow which will impact on hundreds of small enterprises. Thomas’ family business owns


five major caravan parks in the county, including Clarach Bay Holiday Village near Aberystwyth. It’s here that the owners of 143


holiday chalets have been told that they must all pay an additional 25% council tax each year – despite not living on the park. On the contrary, says Thomas,


they are big contributors to the local tourism economy. Mr Scarrott’s press release claims


that the council is sending out the message to holidaymakers that they are not welcome in the county, and that it would prefer them to take their spending elsewhere. Thomas says the chalet owners


are the victims of an ‘ill-considered and poorly thought-through’ bid by Ceredigion Council to bolster its council tax income. Using powers introduced by the


Welsh Government, says Thomas, they are intending from next April to charge a premium of 25% on the rates paid by second home owners.


However, he says, Clarach Bay’s


chalets are not second homes in which people can live, even though their owners already pay full council tax and don’t receive the full council services. Many owners, says Thomas, have


already contacted him in distress and anger at the way they are being treated as ‘second class citizens’ by the council.


According to Wales Tourist Board


figures, says Thomas, visitors to Clarach Bay annually spend almost £3.5 million in the local economy. Much of this income, he says, is


received by smaller enterprises such as shops, pubs, restaurants and visitor attractions – and helps them stay in business and employ staff. “This discriminatory and unfair


tax will have unintended consequences for the whole of our region if, as seems likely, holidaymakers decide they are not wanted here,” said Thomas. “Our customers spend huge amounts during their stays, and


Aberystwyth nursery worker fired


have very little call upon the council services for which they are now being asked to pay a premium. “A timber chalet on a holiday park


is a very different animal to a holiday cottage, but the authority has seen fit to adopt a catch-all approach to their revenue raising scheme. “It should also be remembered that


buying a holiday chalet or caravan is not removing a home from much- needed local housing stock, or pushing up house prices artificially. “Many of our holiday home


owners actually live in Wales, and are also paying full council tax on their permanent residence, so no wonder they are incensed. “Unless this decision is reversed, it


could sound the death knell for part of an industry on which many businesses rely and jobs depend,” said Thomas. However, he hopes that the council


will reconsider its position before the April 2017 deadline. Thomas is chairman of the West


Wales branch of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association, and sits on the organisation’s National Holiday Parks Executive Committee. Thomas’ family business began almost 35 years ago in the county


when his grandfather, Tom Baker, now aged 84, purchased Clarach Bay from the Rank organisation. The enterprise has has since


grown to include five holiday parks in Ceredigion into which, says Thomas, the firm has invested many millions of pounds to create first-class holiday environments. Responding to Mr Scarrott’s


claims, a spokesperson for Ceredigion County Council said: “Though the feedback was generally mixed, a majority of people strongly agreed with the introduction of the premium and believed that its introduction would have a beneficial effect on the local economy. “Due democratic process was therefore rigidly adhered to. “This decision will help to


ensure that full use is being made of properties in Ceredigion in order to satisfy the needs of all of the county’s residents, an aspiration that is set out in the Council’s strategic objectives for 2013-17. “Revenue from the second


home premium will be diverted to Community Councils, who will be able to use this money locally for the benefit of those communities.”


Thomas Scarrott: Council scheme is ‘ill-considered’


Clarach Bay Holiday Village: Chalet owners must pay an additional 25% council tax each year


Camau Bach: Where the toddler was left in the minibus A WOMAN has been fired


from Camau Bach following an incident where a toddler was left in a minibus on the hottest day of the year in July. The Aberystwyth nursery


was closed for two weeks and an investigation was launched following the incident. The three-year-old boy was in


the minibus for over two hours, as temperatures hit 31 degrees Celsius. He was taken to hospital as a


precaution.


This news follows another


safety concern, which took place on Thursday, September 29, when parents were been informed that an intruder entered the building and the police had to be called. The manager of the nursery, Sioned


Davies, confirmed that someone had gained access to the ‘Green Room’ via the outside play area. Now the nursery management


say the gates will be made higher as a precaution to prevent it happening again.


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