Published: May 4, 2012
Burnham-On-Sea holiday bosses take caravan tax fight to Westminster

Holiday park bosses from across the Burnham-On-Sea area will visit Westminster next week to lobby ministers over controversial plans to begin charging VAT at 20 per cent on static caravans.

It comes after a group of 40 park bosses met MP Tessa Munt on Thursday (May 3rd), as pictured here, to express their concerns about the proposals, which they say will lead to job losses across our area, as first reported by here.

Tessa Munt gave holiday park managers her support during a meeting at Brean Leisure Park and has organised a follow-up meeting in Westminster next Wednesday for them to discuss the proposals with Treasury Minister David Gauke.

The MP told "A number of concerns have been raised from those at the smallest family-run parks to the very biggest, and also at caravan distributors, suppliers and those employed by tourist attractions."

"Without sales of these caravans, jobs will affected. I share the holiday parks' concerns because what happens here will have an impact on the 36,000 people who are employed in tourism across Somerset - plus local businesses that rely on tourist trade such as Cheddar Gorge and even Burnham High Street."

"The proposed caravan tax would raise just £43million for the government, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it would leave us having to support all those extra people without jobs locally."

Among those expressing their concerns at Thursday's meeting in Brean was Roger Jackson, from Burnham's Retreat Holiday Park who told "At our site, where it is all private owners, there is no other business and we have no sidelines. We have already been hit by the economic climate and trade is down by 30 per cent, so this will hit us even further and inevitably lead to job cuts - we could have to lay off as much as 50 per cent of our staff."

Bob Smart, Chairman of Somerset Tourism Association, added: "The British tourism industry is hanging by a thread, and the Somerset tourism industry particularly so. While there may not be much financial support available, the last thing we all need is another financial blow."

Earlier this week, Alan House, of Holiday Resort Unity in Brean, said: "If this happens, we could be looking at 12 to 15 job losses here alone. The whole local economy is at risk: the bloke who comes in and does a repair, the shop down the road, the tourist attraction. If people are put off buying the homes then our investment and development plans will be hit too and it becomes a vicious circle."

And Steve Atkinson from Burnham's Home Farm Holiday Park told "These proposals would have a hugely negative impact on the area - hitting sales of static caravans, forcing us to consider cutting jobs and reducing the number of holidaymakers in the Burnham area. The plans are utterly ridiculous."

The National Caravan Council is lobbying for a change of heart by the Government. An online petition has also been launched here to put pressure on the government to reconsider the plans.

Pictured: Top, caravan operators in Brean with MP Tessa Munt on Thursday and, above, with Alan and Richard House and, above, Steve Atkinson

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