Posted: Thu 4th Jul 2024

Flying Instructor in Dispute with Council Over Second Home Categorisation

North Wales news and information

A flying instructor claims his family home has wrongly been categorised as a second home by a North Wales council leaving him thousands of pounds out of pocket. David Barma, 58, a former chief flying instructor at Caernarfon Airport has been in a an “absolutely unbelievable” long-running dispute with Cyngor Gwynedd who he says have levied a council tax premium on his band B property at Carmel, where he has lived for more than 30 years with his wife and son.
The council contacted Mr Barma’s 79-year-old mother Diana who lives in Llandudno mum as the authority believed he has been living there. The mother and son say they have filled in numerous forms and sent evidence to the council for a number of years to prove his primary residence is in Carmel, to no avail.
The council said Mr Barma should contact Cyngor Gwynedd’s Taxation Service and “provide any evidence requested”. Mr Barman and and infuriated Mrs Barma insisted they had done so “several times” and on  numerous occasions.
Mr Barma estimated he has paid £10,000 more council tax than he should have: “We have given the council all the information, six or seven times. I am out of pocket to the tune of about £10,000, that is a big strain on my family income.
“I re-built the house when I came here, it’s always been my home, all my documents are registered here, my family, my life is here. The only thing we can think that might have caused this issue is that we used to have a remote mailbox. At one time mail started going missing so I had it redirected to mum’s for several years, but I wasn’t living there.”
Mr Barma has a redoubtable ally on his side: “Mum’s been amazing, she just wanted to help me sort it out but the council just don’t reply. I expect they don’t want to because they would have to pay the money back with compound interest. It makes me wonder just how many other people have been affected?”
Mrs Barma sad: “The council have got it in their heads that his home in Carmel is a ‘second home’ and that he lives with me in Llandudno – he doesn’t! I have written numerous times to tell them, but they have decided his home is liable for the council tax at the second home rate.
“He was was getting community charge bills, then they started charging the 100 percent rate, now they have gone to the 150 percent rate, it is no joke.
“We have filled in forms, sent evidence to explain that he does not live with me, despite all our pleading we’re just getting nowhere – they don’t respond. It beggar’s belief.”
“I don’t know what more proof we can give them, he is registered with the doctor’s over there, he is on the electoral register to vote there, his driving license is registered there, his wife and son live there, his dogs and cats are there – he does not live with me!”
She claimed: “This has gone on for about six years If someone had told me this story, I just wouldn’t have believed it. It has caused me stress, I worry for David, and he is sick of dealing with it.
“He’s been paying all this the money out – he can’t not pay because it is taken automatically. When I offered to help, I thought it would be straightforward, we’d explain, and the council would sort it – but it has just gone on and on. I’m at my wit send.
“We have written, we’ve sent every shred of evidence we can, we have tried to sort it out using the council online system but all you get is a standard reply. We once did have a response, someone told us this has been ‘investigated’ and that council tax was due on that property – but that wasn’t the issue – he is being charged the second home rate.
“None of it makes sense. I have written to the council numerous times. They can’t say they haven’t received it, I sent it by recorded delivery last time. The council is obliged to reply in 14 days but they just send an automated response.”
A Cyngor Gwynedd Spokesperson said: “We would advise any Gwynedd taxpayer who is concerned that the Council Tax charged on their property does not reflect the use made of that property to contact Cyngor Gwynedd’s Taxation Service and to provide any evidence requested. All claims will then be judged on their individual merit and in accordance with legislation and national guidelines.”

By Dale Spridgeon – Local Democracy Reporter

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