I was pleased to see a letter from my good friend Dick Melton (Letters, March 4). He questions some of the numbers that I have been quoting during my campaign to further the economic development of Hunstanton and the surrounding area.
The figure of 4,025 inhabitants was given to me by an official at the borough council and is extensively quoted in the latest research, so I am taking that to be the current official population. However, there is a local scenario with home owners here. If a couple have two properties, say one here and one in anther county, what can happen is that they decide to put one person’s name on each property. The benefit is, I understand, that each home will then be subject to a 25 per cent domestic rate reduction for being a home of single occupancy, so instead of paying say £1,000 per year, that person only pays £750 , that could save a couple about £500 per year and apparently it’s legal.This situation has the effect of giving a false, higher number of population. So when I say that the current population could be the lowest since the Second World War it’s an estimated number. In reality, the whole of the north west coastline is in a similar situation, I would suggest. Having canvassed the whole area for election purposes, I can promise any reader that the electoral roll lists candidates are given to identify residents are far from correct.There is no way that this can be effectively policed and I doubt that the council would be prepared to invest the time and money to police it.
Homes that are used for holiday lets are, I am told, supposed to be rated commercially, apparently in Hunstanton there are only seven properties so listed. I do wonder how so many holiday letting companies can survive on just seven properties. I will let others ponder on that.
The subject of who lives where and for how long is a difficult one – caravans that have less than 12 months’ occupancy rules are another case in point however that’s another debate.
Cllr Richard Bird, Austin Street, Hunstanton