Call for control of second home council taxes

The North Norfolk District Council offices at Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The North Norfolk District Council offices at Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

A campaign has been launched for communities in holiday hotspots to be given control of cash raised from council tax on second homes.

Sheringham town councillor Liz Withington. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Sheringham town councillor Liz Withington. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

A new group representing town and parish councils in north Norfolk is calling for a share of the money to be given directly to them. Currently North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) receives 25pc of second homes council tax revenue, a proportion of which is distributed in grants through the Big Society Fund.

Now the recently formed North Norfolk Town and Parishes Forum is making the case for the fund to be administered at a more local level.

Liz Withington, who represents Sheringham Town Council on the forum, said: “The intention was for the money to come back into the community and that has not always happened.

“Not all the money from the Big Society Fund is being allocated and it is unclear where it has been going.”

“Town and parish councils have all the systems in place to distribute the funds, are able to award grants and have clearer understanding of what their communities need.”

The group was formed in February at a meeting attended by more than 20 towns and parishes including Cromer, North Walsham, Sheringham, Holt and Wells. Since then support has grown with more than 30 communities affiliated.

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More than £63,000 was awarded in the latest round of Big Society grants announced last week.

Since the fund was launched in 2012, just under £1.3m has been awarded to 164 community projects. NNDC previously shared 50pc of second homes Council Tax with Norfolk County Council, but this was cut to 25pc two years ago.

NNDC leader Tom FitzPatrick said: “The Big Society Fund has been really successful. I fought successfully for the our share of second homes Council Tax not to be phased out completely.

“Grants have been distributed right across the district. Holiday homes are surprisingly spread out and their impact is felt very widely. I have not been approached by the forum on this issue and am unclear about their reasoning.”