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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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Blue Gem Wind begins digital aerial surveys for 300MW Valorous floating wind project

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BLUE GEM WIND, the joint venture between TotalEnergies, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and Simply Blue Energy, has begun offshore digital aerial surveys for a proposed 300MW floating wind project.

APEM Ltd have been chosen by Blue Gem Wind to deliver 24 consecutive monthly bird and marine mammal surveys of the early-commercial scale Valorous site. The high resolution data obtained will support baseline environmental characterisation of the site and environmental impact assessments for key ecological receptors.

The survey programme commenced in March 2021 and four of the 24 monthly surveys have been completed
to date.

Sean Evans, Environmental Specialist at Blue Gem Wind said, “It is important for us to begin long-lead in items
such as bird and marine mammal surveys as early as possible. These surveys will provide crucial species specific
data on the number, spatial distribution and activity of individuals across the Valorous site. This enables us to
undertake robust environmental impact assessments ahead of our planned consent application submission in
2023.”

Matt Rohner, Senior Consultant at APEM, “APEM Ltd are delighted to be able to support Blue Gem Wind’s
proposed Valorous offshore wind farm with our best-in-class survey design approach. Imagery captured using
state-of-the-art cameras is of ultra-high (1.6cm) resolution, providing industry leading image quality that is
essential for species level identification.”

The Celtic Sea is poised to play a key role in Net Zero, the Committee on Climate Change’s 100GW offshore
wind target, and crucially, the UK Government’s target of 1 GW of floating wind by 2030. The ORE Catapult also
estimated that the first GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea could potentially deliver over 3,000 jobs and
£682m in supply chain opportunities for Wales and Cornwall by 2030.

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Three arrests as suspected cocaine worth £12,000 seized in Milford Haven

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POLICE in Milford Haven have disrupted the supply of cocaine in the town in a major operation which saw people detained and a large quantity of drugs found.

Three people were arrested and suspected cocaine worth up to £12,200 was seized, police said.

Dyfed-Powys Police carried out a warrant at a house in Hubberston on the evening of Friday, June 11, “where 122g of what is believed to be cocaine was found.”

This is estimated to have a street value of between £9,760 and £12,200 depending on its purity.

The occupant of the address – a 59-year-old man – was not present at the time, however he was later arrested on suspicion of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply.

He has been released under investigation pending the result of forensic, digital and financial enquiries.

As enquiries progressed, officers made two further arrests over the weekend.

A 33-year-old man from Manchester, was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and possession of an offensive weapon after police stopped the car he was driving.

A quantity of white powder was seized by Greater Manchester Police during a warrant at the address he gave officers in custody.

A 27-year-old woman from the Stockport area was also arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.

Both have been released on bail with the condition not to enter Pembrokeshire.

Detective Constable Phillip Jones said: “This was a significant drugs seizure, and we will continue our enquiries with the view to securing a swift outcome.

“I would like to thank all officers involved over the weekend for their dedication and diligence.”

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Major blaze destroys well known Tenby chip shop

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EMERGENCY services have sealed off part of Tenby following a major fire at a chip shop.

Fire fighters rushed to Park Road Fish & Chip Shop after a blaze broke out late on Tuesday morning (Jun 15).

Emergency services are still at the scene. Police are asking people to avoid the area.

Diversions for traffic are in place.

Four fire appliances responded to the blaze at the Tenby chip shop (Image G Davies Photography)
Fire fighters take off BA kits after the blaze was put out (Image G Davies Photography)

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