04/11/2012 Sunday Politics South West


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In the South West. Sarah Wollaston explains why she voted against the


government on Europe. And calls for a new tax to control


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2067 seconds


Coming upon the Sunday Politics in the south-west. Should there be a


tax on second homes? We will hear from an MP who says yes because the


sight of houses with the lights off is breaking his heart.


For the next 20 minutes I am joined with the Conservative MP Sarah


Wollaston and Labour councillor Darren Campbell. Welcome to the


programme. Sarah was one of the MPs who rebelled against the government


on the boat on the EU budget, which angered some of her Tory colleagues,


and provoked heated exchanges in the House. Here is a flavour of


what happened. The Conservative Party is united on


Europe. We are all opposed to the increase in the Budget, and we


would like to strengthen things. Can I just say, if the honourable


lady goes into the division lobby said that it to that of the Prime


Minister she is not helping him or the party. If this party hopes to


be in government after the next general election it has to get a


grip and starts supporting the Prime Minister.


David Cameron is under a lot of pressure to make the coalition work,


and you have undermined him on this issue. Don't you feel this might be


slightly damaging? I have not undermined him, I am representing


my constituents, and the clear message I get is we're taking...


Torbay have taken 11% cuts in the form of a grant, 6% this year, do


we have one -- want to hand all the savings to Europe? Brixham had a


handout from Europe. Yes, but this is money we could be the


distributing, we're talking a big difference. This debate is about


asking you up to take note about how people feel in Britain, and


people in Britain really do want them to make the same choices that


people in my constituency are making. You said that the Tories


are united on Europe, but how can you say you are delighted when you


have got people like Sir Tony baldy who was part of the Major


government, and says he knows too well the consequences of rebelling


on fact like this. But this is an issue about the Budget. And what we


are seeing is that, and I do not know any Tory MP who wants to get


real with this. This motion was calling on the Government to take


note of how we feel, but it is also more important that we were asking


the European Union to take note, because they would have been


watching, and it showed that a clear majority in parliament are


saying to Europe, people in this country want you to do the same as


we are asking of our constituents. Thank you. His David Cameron right?


Back in July we were advocating cuts in the EU budget. It is not


opportunism. It is recognition that Europe has got to play its part in


cutting its budget at a time when budgets are going to be cut in huge


amounts, affecting frontline services and end users. Europe has


to play its role. Ed Miliband supported an increase in the EU


budget under the last Labour government, and this change of mind


was only on Monday. It is not a change of mind, it is a change of


circumstance. The economy in 2005 was different. We have had a global


crisis since then, and a double-dip recession. The reality is we have a


European economy that is an very briefly, a bad start for the Chief


Whip. If Andrew Mitchell was there, which


are still have rebelled? I am very clear that I would have been


representing my constituents on this, which would have made no


difference to me who was the chief whip. It is unfortunate that so


much rebate was handed back, 54% of a rebate was handed back in 2011,


which voters are not happy about. We have to move on. Last week it


was revealed -- revealed that Cornwall has the largest number of


second homes in the country. We reported calls from Andrew George


for a new planning rules to allow councils to control numbers.


Another of the Liberal Democrat MPs is proposing a new tax on second


A winter's night in cost and mackerel, and many homes remain in


darkness. -- in Cawsand. A legacy of second-home ownership. You can


see huge areas of places with no lights on, which hits the local


economy. People might spend a bit of money when they are there, but


when the RMT, they are not helping. A recent report found that 85% of


people surveyed thought it was good for their area. 49% felt measure


should be taken to reduce the negative impact of second home


buying. What it does this say that we need to look into this a bit


more. The issue of a second home is a very long spectrum, you can have


a second home that is rented out for 40 or 50 weeks of the year,


providing revenues for the local shot, the local pub, the local


builder, but on the other end of this spectrum, you can have one


that might only be used for two begins in you and the odd week.


It is those relatively unused properties that he is targeting,


and has proposed changing to planning laws so that local


authorities could cap the number of second homes in the area. He is


also suggesting changes to the tax system where second homes could be


charged a higher rate of council tax, there is also a suggestion of


a mansion tax on second homes which would raise money to provide


affordable housing for local people. You could have a two layer pricing


system in the county, you would have to oversee it and he feared it


would be. If you succeeded in switching holiday properties into


local housing, which I have my doubts about, you are undermining a


critical part of the local economy so you trading houses for jobs.


Classic Cottages in Helston employs 35 people and markets cottages. The


company chairman Simon Tregoning is sceptical about political


interference, concerned it may do more harm than good. A what are


they trying to achieve? The youngsters that I employ are also


looking for houses, so we see all shades of the argument.


Tourism boss of so welcomed the debate. -- bosses welcomed the


debate. You could not stop someone buying a second home, so we have to


think this through a bit more. It is an area that is worth debate,


but no one has a silver bullet to solve this where you gain the


economic benefits but there are no negatives.


Spending by second homeowners injects �150 million into


Cornwall's economy each year. It provides a living for some, but


others crave for communities they once had.


To discuss this we are joined by a Lib Dem MP, Stephen Gilbert.


Welcome to the programme. Do you support the idea of more taxation


for second homeowners are? Absolutely. It is welcome that the


coalition government has removed the discount that second-home


owners were able to benefit from, something we did not see from


Labour and 13 years. We need to see that -- Major that local


authorities have the powers to set a limit to the number of second


homes in a particular area. If you go to some communities in Cornwall,


you will find it up to half of the residences and empty for up to nine


months of the year, only used during the summer. That really does


have an impact in terms of local businesses, schools, and an impact


that has a price to pay in the local economy. How much more should


taken -- second homeowners pay? That is an issue that can be


debated. Or we are now unable to charge 100% of council tax, but I


would be keen to go to 200%, with the proviso that the local


authority has powers to limit the numbers. Limit the number of second


homes? How would they do that? Those communities have less money


going around them. Stephen, sorry to interrupt you. How would local


authorities limit the number of second homes? If you were selling a


house that was your prime residents, do you think you should not be


allowed to sell it to a second home or no? The proposal we have put


forward is that local authorities should be given powers through the


planning system to enable people wanting to purchase a second home


to apply through the planning process for that. That way, local


communities who want to increase the number of second homes will be


able to do so, and those at saturation will have the power to


prevent it. I am going to be that now to say. What do you make about


what he is saying, that he could limit the number of second homes?


There are areas where it is out of bounds. Some areas have 40% of


second home-ownership, which is out of balance. Particularly when


people do not use them for the majority of the here and they do


not let them out. The problem is, any mechanism in place, there could


be consequences to that. If we ask people to pay 150% of council tax,


what would stop them saying it is the main residence? We also have to


remember that many of these people might be second homeowners


initially, and they contribute a huge amount of their community.


Many people who contribute the most to their community first introduced


-- were first introduced by being a second homeowner, so they might


spend more time there permanently. What do you say to that? She is


quite right to suggest we would need to think carefully about the


mechanism to introduce a restriction on the number of second


homes, but it is a power that local communities and at saturation point,


they want powers to limit the number of. Darren Powell, do you


support this issue? I am in favour of doing what we can to reduce the


number of second homes because there is such an impact on the


local housing stock, and the ability for young people to stay


within the communities. What about the example of some are not allowed


to sell their house to a second homeowner, will that not lead to


localise downturn in the housing market and individual homeowners


losing a lot of money? I do not think you would be able to regulate


it. You could listed as a primary residence, and your actual London


or Manchester home could be your secondary residence because it is


this -- if it is a discretionary power, not all authorities will


adopt it because it is only in regions like ours with it is a big


problem. A lot more to discuss before legislation.


Thank you. The region's pubs are still closing at an alarming rate,


and this week, several south-west MPs backed calls for government


intervention. They want ministers to scrap the beer duty escalator


which they say has an unfair impact on the local. They say that since


the tax was introduced four years ago it has put 60p on to the


average pint of beer. Earlier this year, we filmed Wendy,


who was at the start of an ambitious project to turn a


derelict pub into a vibrant business. We have come back, and it


seems that despite all the hard work, trade are struggling. She has


recently had to lay off her chef to save money, and she has had to step


in to fill the gap. In the summer it was just worse than a normal


winter. In terms of the weather? Yes, people were not coming out. We


have just had to lay off the chef, because we could not afford them


and keep the roof over our heads. She is not alone. According to the


industry, beer sales are down 5% and pub closures are up 50%.


Traders say the beer duty escalator was partly to blame. The tax was


introduced in 2008, under Labour. It goes up by inflation plus 2%


every year. That means a pint costs 60 ends more than it did four years


ago. -- 60p. This week MPs called for the government to review the


tax. But there are those who think that


keeping the price of alcohol high is not necessarily a bad thing.


would call for the government giving benefits to pubs to sell


soft drinks more cheaply, serve hot food throughout the day and give


information about the harm caused by alcohol. But we do not know that


it should be by taking away the duty tax escalator. They are


hitting an industry which is finding it very hard, and I think


they play on the fact that there is a lot of harm done by alcohol. But


there are lots of good things done. A pint of beer in a pub is


relaxation. Why keep aiming at thing that -- things that people


enjoy? MPs voted in favour of the review of the tax before the Budget,


but the out -- outcome of the vote has no cold on the Government. The


Health Minister did say that he was listening, and they will introduce


a range of measures to help the pubs.


You have campaign such -- tirelessly about alcohol


consumption, and beer consumption is now going down, maybe as a


result of the duty. Are you pleased? To be honest, I was at the


debate because I do support pubs, and I met with several publican's


before the vote. And I am very concerned about the closures of a


rural pubs, which are at the heart of the community, and for me the


issue is the difference between the price of the very cheap alcohol


causing harm in supermarkets, which is the area we should be tackling,


I do not think there is an issue with the price of beer and a pub.


It is already relatively very high. So the beer escalator duty should


be scrapped? I would agree that we need a review. We need to get rid


of the ultra cheap alcohol which is causing the problems. It is the


shift to home drinking that is the problem.


Labour introduced this policy in 2008. We have heard that beer has


gone up 60p a pint since then. This will continue to rise. Is now a


good time to say enough is enough? I think we need to look at the


consequences of having the escalator. We heard in the film


about the number of pubs closing, which is 60 a week across the


nation. My local pub closed a few months ago, and I know the impact


it has had on the community. It is absolutely right, as someone who


represents a town centre, I see the consequences of the high strings


ladder that you can buy so cheaply, on antisocial behaviour. Was the


duty escalator one of Gordon Brown's money spinner has? You have


got to consider economic budgets that were laid down in 2008 which


was totally different than they are now.


Stephen, you took part in the debate, and called for it to be


scrapped. Where do you see the shortfall in revenue coming from a


fit his scrubs? The important thing is when you get to the top of the


escalator it is time to step off, and we see that the beer duty


escalator is having an impact in terms of local businesses, and


actually if we enable them to thrive, we will be able to collect


more revenue than if we continue to penalise them by keeping the


escalated in place. OK, it is now time for the regular


round-up of the political be. Wind turbine policy was blowing in


all directions. The conservative Energy Minister said enough was


enough, but the Lib Dems say he was just generating confusion. He is


talking from a personal perspective. No, he is the Energy Minister!


it is not go a month policy. Councillors might get control of


budgets currently set in Whitehall. There has been a big rise in fly-


tipping. Offences in Exeter doubled in two years. More people are happy


to reporter at the ease days. Disappointment in Dorset, the


Department for Transport says it would not pay �2 million to repair


the Beaminster tunnel. And some grassroots politics in


North Devon, where residents rolled up their sleeves to round up a herd


of feral goats. They have come back over and gone back where they


started, so I think we're going to have to reorganise and have another


That was the round-up of the week. Let us look at the wind turbine row.


It seems to show that the coalition is in disarray. Do you believe it


was a responsible for John Hayes to make these remarks signalling an


end to offshore wind turbines without consulting the government?


It is not a responsible because I have seen people in my constituency


surgeries who are in favour of environmental policies, but this


morning I saw 10 people in the surgery who have just had a wind


turbine built within 250 metres of their homes, and the person getting


all the subsidies does not live anywhere near it. If you are having


a loss of amenity because of it, you should have some degree of


compensation order your community should benefit from it. I welcome


the review that has been launched, the consultation on how we get the


right benefits to communities. Stephen, you work closely with the


energy secretary, was he fuming about this? No, not at all. What


John was setting out was his view about where the debate should go


back after the government has set out its target. We're at 6% at the


moment and we have a fair distance to go, if we're going to make


obligations under climate change and reduce the amount of carbon


vomiting. -- the knitting. When we are looking at the onshore power


were, it is important we have people getting benefit from wind


turbines, which is why the Government are consulting. But the


industry says it is confuse about policy. The policy is clear. It is


that one third of energy generation will come from renewables by 2020.


John's comments will be seen after the debate of 2020. Thank you for


joining us. Before we go, we have to ask you about your role in Costa


Coffee. It has pulled out his bed to open in Totnes. You were very


against them opening. How does that work, with the Tory policy being


very free-market? I was never against them, the other great


British company paying all their tax, it was about saying we as


appropriate to? In Totnes, we have a strong tradition of independence


and it is about keeping money in the local economy, the local


sustainable supplies, and we wanted Costa Coffee to visit the town and


say, look at the impact this would have, and a really strong feeling


was that we did not want a cloned high street. One of the reasons


people were coming to Totnes is because there is a different offer


there, and something you can end up destroying that. Were you surprised


that a Tory was supporting something which was not free


market? Of course not. Because Sarah is doing what an MP is doing


to represent her business and interests. It is to Costa Coffee's


credit that they took notice of the community and that the number of


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