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Brighton and Hove City councillor's tax on tourists idea rejected
A Green councillor has suggested tourists should be taxed to pay for lifeguards and free water fountains.
Green councillor Ben Duncan argued a tax on visitors to Brighton and Hove would “benefit tourists as well as residents”.
The comments are set to reignite the debate over whether a tourist tax would benefit the city or drive away trade.
A senior Green figure dismissed Councillor Duncan’s comments, describing the idea as “silly”.
The idea would be to levy a £2 tax per night per room on visitors to the city’s largest hotels.
Writing on his blog, Councillor Duncan said: “You’d raise a few hundred thousand along the way – certainly enough to pay for more frequent beach clean-ups, say, or more lifeguards, or some free drinking water fountains in the city.
“At a stroke you’d benefit all the smaller guest houses in the city, by creating a financial incentive – albeit a small one – for people to stay there instead of larger hotels.
“People come to Brighton for our cultural and touristic offer, not because it’s cheap. Anyone for whom two quid a night, per room, would be a marginal factor, would probably already have chosen to holiday in Worthing or Littlehampton.”
In January Green council bosses ruled out bringing in a new tax on tourists – while asking residents if they would support one.
An online survey from Brighton and Hove City Council asked residents to give their priorities for how the local authority should fund services with one option including a tourism tax. Later the council backtracked and said the idea would not be introduced.
Green councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chair of the council’s economic development and culture committee, said the local authority had not changed its mind.
He said: “This idea comes up again and again like a bad penny. To be honest, Ben’s the only person suggesting it.
“Why would we want to introduce something which would be used by our competitors like Bournemouth and Skegness as a marketing ploy?
“People would be discouraged from staying here for long and hotels would then become tax collectors for the council. I think that would certainly be problematic.”
But Councillor Duncan said: “If filling in a few forms on the front desk of a posh hotel is the price of getting the wealthiest visitors to our city to contribute to public facilities for everyone, it’s a price worth paying.”
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