MP for Boston and Skegness Mark Simmonds has assured the caravan industry that he will ‘continue fighting their corner’ against budget proposals for a static caravan tax.
Mr Simmonds’ comments followed concerns expressed by the industry after it emerged that he had voted against a motion to prevent VAT from being added to holiday caravans.
Business manager at Coastfields Leisure David Honman was surprised by Mr Simmonds’ decision which contributed to the motion being refused by a margin of just 25 votes on April 18.
Although he was pleased with a number of supportive gestures made by the MP concerning VAT issues, he found it ‘incredible’ that Mr Simmonds would then vote against the interests of one of the coast’s most significant employers and economic contributors.
He said: “Mr Simmonds met with more than 50 representatives of the caravan park industry and seemed to listen to what everybody was saying. He also wrote an excellent letter to the Chancellor, which showed he was fully aware of the issues and summarised each of our main concerns. But he then seems to have voted against us, which I find absolutely incredible.”
Mr Simmonds has since explained that the recent vote was ‘a confused motion put together by a Labour backbencher’ and that the important vote on the Finance Bill would not be held until May 18.
Throughout the consultation on the Finance Bill Mr Simmonds claims to have held numerous meetings with the Chancellor and other relevant cabinet ministers to ensure the caravan industry’s views are represented. Although he feels it unlikely that the government will change its stance ‘in totality’ he is hopeful that the most adverse effects of the proposal can be mitigated against. One such suggestion is for VAT to remain at zero on all caravans designed for continuous all year round occupation.
He said: “We need to continue lobbying the government either to change its stance or to mitigate against the detrimental impact the proposals to introduce VAT on static caravans could bring about.
“I’m not beaten yet and I will continue to fight tirelessly to ensure that the views of Skegness people are relayed to the Treasury.
“I would encourage anyone who has an interest in static caravans to either respond to the Treasury or write to me as their local MP.”
Mr Honman was pleased to hear of his MP’s assurances of support although he still feels that by voting against the motion, even a confused one, Mr Simmonds missed an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of feeling surrounding the issue in Skegness.