New twist in Norfolk second home tax row
Sarah HallMoves to use money collected from council tax levies on second homes to improve infrastructure across Norfolk has stoked further controversy.People who live in areas with large numbers of second homes reacted angrily when the county council put forward proposals to divert a share of that money, which would previously have been pumped back into providing affordable homes, into infrastructure improvements across the county as a whole.Sarah Hall
Moves to use money collected from council tax levies on second homes to improve infrastructure across Norfolk has stoked further controversy.
People who live in areas with large numbers of second homes reacted angrily when the county council put forward proposals to divert a share of that money, which would previously have been pumped back into providing affordable homes, into infrastructure improvements across the county as a whole.
The matter reared its head again at a meeting of Norfolk County Council this week, when worried parish councils were among those questioning the fairness of the move.
Joanna Otte, clerk to Great Snoring, Kettlestone, Little Snoring, Hindolveston, Stody and Walsingham Parish Council, was among those who raised concerns to the county council.
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She said: "All the parish councils to which I am clerk are concerned about the lack of affordable homes, poor public transport, limited sewage treatment works capacity and broadband access in their villages, and a few have ongoing problems with mobile phone reception."
She asked that money from the new infrastructure fund be used to make improvements which had been identified in North Norfolk through the district council's core strategy.
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Marie Strong, Liberal Democrat councillor who represents Wells division, added: "My division has one of the highest rates of second- home ownership in the county.
"The recent cabinet report regarding the reallocation of a portion of second-homes income has resulted in my receiving considerable representation as to what infrastructure work is planned for the division."
She asked council leader Daniel Cox to explain which infrastructure projects the county council had planned for the Wells area and the dates by which they would be completed.
Mr Cox stressed the money would be distributed across the county and said: "At this stage, we are unclear as to how much funding will be available in this new fund, which starts in April 2010, as it depends on the amount not used from this current financial year and the predictions for the amount to be collected during 2010-11.
"We have asked county council officers to develop proposals for how the fund will operate, which will be done in consultation with colleagues in district and parish councils
"Norfolk County Council's cabinet has considered this proposal and support it because it will have enormous benefits for the county when otherwise major improvement projects could stall because of the recession.
"North Norfolk has the most second homes and over the years has had the largest share of the monies
"This will not change, and North Norfolk will continue to have access to approximately �686,000 each year, through its Local Strategic Partnership which can use its funds to support affordable housing."