Celebrations as ‘pasty’ and ‘caravan’ taxes dropped

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 June 2012

David and Sarah Astill.

David and Sarah Astill.

Archant

A GROUP of industry figures are claiming victory for bakers and holidaymakers nationwide after a 10,000 signature petition led to a Government U-turn on new taxes for pasties and caravans.

MPs and industry leaders went to Parliament last week to air their concerns on proposals to change the VAT rate on static holiday homes from zero to 20 per cent, including the director general of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association.

A petition was also handed to the Government opposing the change, which leisure sector experts claimed could have cost the South West upwards of £40million.

The Government announced on Monday that VAT on hot bakery food would be reversed, while the rate on caravans would be changed from 20 to five per cent, with its introduction delayed from October to April 2013.

Weston MP for tourism John Penrose voted in favour of the VAT increases, a move he says was to ensure the extended consultation period contained in the plans became a reality.

He said: “After the budget was first announced, we persuaded the Treasury to allow a longer consultation on VAT on caravans and pasties, to buy time to make tourism’s case.

“It would have been the worst kind of political double standards to oppose a longer consultation after we’d argued so strongly in favour, and would have completely torpedoed our chances of winning the argument too.

“So I supported the longer consultation and, I’m pleased to say, it worked a treat. We used the extra time to make the case, Treasury agreed, and the tourism industry is celebrating as a result. Job done.”

David Astill, who owns Astills of Worle, has previously spoken out against the new taxes, and welcomed the rethink on hot food charges.

He said the change of mind was great news for independent bakeries and means he can concentrate on running his business, rather than having the decision ‘hanging over him’ and other business people.

Mr Astill helped to collect nearly 1,000 signatures against the controversial decision while other bakers marched in protests across the country.

His shop, in High Street, which has been a family business in the same spot for nearly 40 years, collected about 40 sheets of signatures against the proposals.

He said: “If you shout loud enough you’ll be heard. We hoped it would not go through for our own survival’s sake.

“It’s a weight off our shoulders and it gives us a bit of confidence back that our voices can be heard.”

Clive Wilson, owner of a caravan park in Sand Bay and one of the businessmen who visited the House of Commons, said: “It is fantastic news. It is fantastic for the general tourist industry in the area. It would have had an impact on tourism and I think it is great they have woken up to that fact.

“It is a good example of the Government listening to local people but it is a shame they didn’t do it first because it did cause a lot of stress.

“It is great news for Weston, Brean, Berrow and the whole area and in these hard economic times the industry needs all the help it can get.

“But it is also brilliant news for holidaymakers.”

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