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£4m could be raised by charging second home owners double council tax

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THE LABOUR GROUP on Pembrokeshire County Council are calling for council tax on second homes to be increased to double the standard rate.

People who own a second home in Pembrokeshire already pay 150% of the standard council tax rate. This is called the Second Home Premium.

The Labour councillors say that by increasing the tax on people who own second homes in Pembrokeshire to 200% the standard rate, an additional £4m could be raised to help pay for under-pressure local authority services.

The Notice of Motion on the matter is worded as follows: “We the undersigned county councillors from the Labour Group call on Pembrokeshire County Council to increase second home council Tax from the existing 50% to 100%, by raising the council tax on second homes for the 2021/22 financial year at 100% which would raise an additional £4 million which the authority can utilise on other essential services.”

The document has been signed by Cllr Thomas Tudor, Cllr Alison Tudor, Cllr Paul miller, Cllr Joshua Beynon, Cllr Anthony Wilcox, Cllr Guy Woodham Cllr Vic Dennis Cllr Thomas Tudor, County Councillor for the “Castle Ward” of Haverfordwest.

But Lib Dem’s Bob Kilmister – County Councillor for Dinas Cross Ward on Pembrokeshire County Council told this newspaper that the matter was already up for discussion with the Council Tax Working Group.

“I think the idea was first suggested by a Plaid Cymru member”, he said. “We have commissioned an independent report. We also have to be aware that we cannot implement the tax rise straight away as a consultation has to take place, so we are looking at April 2022 at the very earliest”.

Cllr Kilmister also explained that the money raised cannot be spent on anything the Council likes, but it would have to be spent on mitigating the impacts of second home ownership.

The extra cash could not be used, therefore, to generally boost the council’s coffers.

“There generally seems to be support for the increase”, Cllr Kilmister told The Herald.

From 1 April 2017, local authorities have been be able to charge a premium of up to 100% of the standard rate of council tax on long-term empty homes and second homes in their areas. The legislative changes were made by the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 and the powers given to local authorities are discretionary. Whether to charge a premium on long-term empty homes or second homes (or both) is, therefore, a decision to be made by each local authority.

According to the Pembrokeshire County Council website, the definition of a second home is a dwelling which is not a person’s sole or main home and is substantially furnished. The Council’s policy is not to award any discount and therefore the full charge is payable.

Plan to raise £4m: Cllr Tudor is one of those who have signed the the Notice of Motion

The Council decided to charge from the financial year 2017/18 a premium of 50% in addition to the standard rate of council tax for properties that fall within their published definition of a second home.

The council ask People to own up if their dwelling is classed as Second Home within the council’s down definition. They state: “If you believe you should not be subject to the premium or your property falls within the above definition but your bill does not reflect the additional charge, you should inform the Council within 21 days.

“Failure to supply or to give false information may result in the imposition of a penalty of £50.00, payment of which is enforceable in the Magistrates Court.

“Several factors are considered when determining a person’s main residence for council tax purposes.

“These include where an individual is registered to vote; whether the property is owned or rented; the amount of time spent at the property; family ties; where the majority of an individual’s personal possessions are kept; where an individual is registered with a GP/dentist; where their correspondence is sent; where their partner resides and where their children go to school (if applicable).”

The Second Home Premium does not hit landlords, as the tenants are liable for the council tax in the properties they occupy and therefore the property would not come under the definition of a second home under those circumstances.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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