CHARGING second-home owners 200 per cent Council Tax would be “opening a can of worms”, a councillor has warned.

The Government is planning to introduce powers for local authorities to levy a premium on second homes.

This new approach could be introduced as early as 2024/25 by BCP Council but it would require council approval by March 31 next year.

Conservative councillor Jackie Edwards voiced her concerns over the policy at a recent meeting of the council’s corporate and community overview and scrutiny committee.

“I think charging 200 per cent on services they don’t actually receive is opening a can of worms here,” Cllr Edwards said.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Jackie EdwardsCllr Jackie Edwards

“To be honest if we had 100 per cent occupancy of all our homes in the area, I think we would be in serious trouble with doctors, dentists, schools, etc.

“I think we need to think about this really carefully when this comes up.”

BCP Council leader Cllr Drew Mellor said he supported the move to charge 200 per cent Council Tax on second homes but he would welcome debate and discussion among councillors before making a formal decision.

“The government is effectively saying, it is particularly relevant in areas like ours, Cornwall and other attractive destinations, locals are being priced out of the market because of an abundance of second homeowners,” Cllr Mellor said.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Drew MellorCllr Drew Mellor

“What the government is saying is actually if somebody is going to be a second homeowner then great, that’s fine, but they are going to have a penalty for doing so and then that money will go into the local authorities to spend and that will support services but also it will support stuff like regeneration and housebuilding, so that we can then prioritise homes for local people.

“What I think this will do is that some second homeowners will realise now is not worth it for them, they will come away."

Cllr Mellor added: “There is time for second-home owners to understand the change that is coming but we believe that when we have the ability to charge 200 per cent, we believe we should do because we are desperate to create affordable homes and homes for local people, so our children and the people doing the jobs of the future will have places to stay in BCP.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Mike Cox said the approach was a “difficult sell in” when second-home owners were supporting the local economy.

“I think the principle is correct in terms of local homes for local people – that is certainly something we can all buy into,” Cllr Cox said.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Mike CoxCllr Mike Cox

“But penalising people who want to help out the local economy in this way is fraught with difficulty, not least of which is the potential for getting round whatever you decide to set up.

“You have to tread very carefully on this as an administration and as a council as I think it will be fraught with difficulty.”