A long-held dream by a retired couple looking to move to Largs has been "ruined" by a new ruling on second homeowners to have their council tax doubled.

Colin Halcrow and his wife Elizabeth live in Knightswood, Glasgow, and bought a small one-bedroom flat within a retirement complex at the McCarthy and Stone complex behind Nardini's Cafe in Largs.

They were hoping to retire there full-time in a couple of years once their daughter, also living in Glasgow, needs less help looking after her children.

However, the council tax on the Largs property will jump from £200 per month to £400 per month - which Colin describes as unsustainable.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

The 73-year-old said: "We pay 100% council tax on both properties, along with our share of communal charges and a management fee to the factors of the Largs property.

"The Largs flat has never been rented out. We visit there only occasionally for upkeep and maintenance purposes, and to get it decorated and furnished in preparation for our pending full-time move.

"However, our dream move is now shattered and we will probably have to sell the Largs flat, as the Scottish Government has put legislation in place to allow North Ayrshire Council to levy a 100% council tax surcharge, which of course is totally unaffordable.Largs and Millport Weekly News:

"The First Minister is on record as saying second homeowners should pay their fair share of council tax. How is 200% fair?

"I have written to North Ayrshire Council requesting information on their intentions, come the new tax year in April. They claim not to have decided yet, but I feel sure we will be faced with the full 100% levy.

"It is a vindictive piece of legislation and can only be designed to punish people of our generation who have worked hard, saved, and had the foresight to invest in our own future."

Colin said the couple are now faced with trying to sell to a very limited market, as a condition of ownership in the retirement complex is being a minimum of 60 years of age.

The former financial credit manager added: "How can a one-bedroom flat in a retirement complex coming back on to the market alleviate any perceived housing shortage?

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

"I have also written to the leader of the Scottish Labour Party to try to find out what their intentions would be if they came to power in Scotland, only to be told Scottish Labour proposals include establishing a 100% council tax surcharge on second homes.

"The only party showing any common sense in this whole matter is the Scottish Conservatives, who say that they are steadfastly opposed to the introduction of increasing the council tax on second homes, as it will do nothing to free up stock for local people as they have claimed it will and it will unnecessarily punish those who have saved and invested throughout their lives."

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

North Coast Conservative councillor Todd Ferguson said: "Second homeowners contacted me to raise concerns that local authorities could soon have the power to double their council tax.

"Following discussions at Cabinet, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist group called the decision into the Audit and Scrutiny Committee to have it removed entirely from future planning at North Ayrshire Council. 

"Unfortunately, for second homeowners in North Ayrshire and Arran, our call in was defeated by SNP and Labour councillors.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

"The Scottish Government claimed that the new powers would help address the housing shortage. However, according to Rightmove there are currently 411 properties listed for sale in North Ayrshire, 94 of which are on the islands of Arran and Cumbrae.

"Second homeownership is high in our island communities and they are vital contributors to the local economy, particularly in the summer periods.

"If the SNP, backed up by their Labour colleagues, bring forward this legislation it will have a devastating impact on North Ayrshire and Arran, which will be particularly acute on our islands and tourist hotspots.

"The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Group remain steadfastly opposed to doubling council tax for second homeowners."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “From 1 April 2024 councils will have the power, should they chose to use it, to double the full rate of council tax on second homes. This change to council tax was a commitment made in the Programme for Government and aims to strike a balance between increasing the availability of housing for living in and a fair taxation system.”

The powers also enable councils to grant a six-month ‘grace period’ from the Empty Homes Council Tax premium where new owners are undertaking repairs and renovations, which is aimed at incentivising reoccupation and improvements.

Where a second property is rented out the tenant will pay the normal rate of council tax, the owners as landlords are not responsible to pay any council tax.