As we head into February it has been an interesting time for me both locally and in Westminster over the past week. In my new position as a member of the Space Industry Bill Committee it was great to be spend a lot of time involved in the scrutiny and development of this new legislation as it heads towards becoming law. With our strong bid for Cornwall Airport Newquay to be Britain’s first commercial spaceport this could be a game-changer for our local economy and I will continue to do all I can to achieve this.
I also questioned the Secretary of State for the Environment on our responsibilities as MPs to lead the way in the fight against plastic waste, ahead of a new campaign I will shortly be starting – more on that next week!
Meanwhile in Mid-Cornwall on Friday I attended a meeting of the Cornwall Leadership Board, along with key private and public sector figures at County Hall, to help set the agenda for Cornwall for 2018 and beyond, as well as going along and speaking at a packed breakfast event for St Austell Bay Chamber of Commerce.
One issue that was due to be discussed at the most recent Full Council meeting of Cornwall Council surrounds the loophole that enables holiday home owners to get out of paying council tax for their homes.
Essentially the issue is that second-home owners register their properties as businesses and get small business rates relief for them thereby contributing nothing to the cost of local services and Policing.
This is an issue that I have recently met with the Local Government Minister about. It is clearly an unfair gap in existing legislation and one that needs to be closed as soon as possible.
The Government has already made some progress in recognising the sometimes negative impact that second homes can have on the all-year communities they are in, pushing up houses prices and making them unaffordable for local people. In 2011 the Conservative-led Government ended the scheme where many second home owners qualified for up to 100% relief on their council tax. In 2015 the Government announced a stamp duty levy on second homes, with the proceeds of this levy going to areas that suffer from this issue, with Cornwall mentioned specifically by the then-Chancellor during his announcement.
The monies from the levy are sent to local councils for use in affordable housing developments via Community Land Trusts. The first batch of this payment was issued last year, and I am pleased to confirm Cornwall Council received £5m from the Government.
There is still more to do though, and I will be working with colleagues both locally and in Westminster to find a common sense solution that ensures all local property owners contribute to our local communities.
My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. The office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events