SECOND homeowners need to contribute more to rural communities suffering from the impact of part- time residents, heard a meeting of Gargrave Parish Council.

North Yorkshire Councillor Simon Myers told last week's meeting how the doubling of council tax on second homes from April 2025 was estimated to raise more than £12 million per year, which would be used to build new homes.

The unitary council was not against second homes, but owners needed to pay more to support communities - and it could also put some buying 'on a whim', he added.

Cllr Myers, who represents Mid-Craven on North Yorkshire Council and sits on its decision making executive, said of the houses in the post code area of BD23 4 - which includes Hellifield, Kirkby Malham, Malham, Coniston Cold and Airton -  some 24 per cent were second homes, a figure that was likely to be higher in the Gargrave area, agreed councillors.

He said: "I'm not against second homeowners, they do contribute to the local economy, but not when it gets out of scale, when local people can't afford homes.

"The worst part of being on the executive is closing village schools and when we are closing schools because there are no children, then we know there is something very wrong.

"It is not that we are seeking to punish second homeowners, but they must make a contribution that will be used to ameliorate housing problems."

Cllr Alan Sutcliffe said it would be interesting to see how many second homes came onto the market ahead of April next year when the council tax doubled on second homes.

Cllr Myers told the meeting there had been a big increase in second homeownership during the coronavirus pandemic with people buying property in Yorkshire; there were also those who had moved away, but had inherited homes in the county.

He said: "We don't want to punish people, but we want to discourage it. We do think it will raise between £12 million and £16 million per year to be spent on housing in North Yorkshire and hopefully it will stop people buying a house on a whim.

"You can drive through some parts of the Dales at night and there are no lights on. Just a couple of farmers," he said.

The council is also set to charge a premium of 100 per cent for all empty domestic properties from April. Both are due to be agreed by full council on February 21.