Last week, local MP Tessa Munt delivered a speech at the Annual National Conference of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) to celebrate the British Tourism Industry.
Tessa was invited to speak after a successful campaign by Somerset’s caravan park owners, combined with the full ‘fire-power’ of the BH&HPA, led to a rethink by the Treasury on its plans to introduce the “Caravan Tax” in the Chancellor’s 2012 Budget.
Addressing delegates, including those from Somerset, Tessa emphasised how important tourism is for our economy, not least in the South West where over 35 thousand people are reliant on the industry for their livelihoods.
In a wide-ranging speech about the UK’s improving economy, she emphasised the importance of a rise in the number of jobs, cuts in fuel duties, income tax cuts for low and middle earners and a potential rise in the national minimum wage, all of which directly affect British holidaymakers and their spending power. She commented on the loyalty of holidaymakers who return year after year to parks in the UK, and observed that their loyalty deserved to be repaid with Government help.
Tessa zeroed in on the appalling behaviour of banks who had targeted this and other industries, mis-selling Interest Rate Hedging products – known as ‘Swaps’. She explained the impact of mis-selling these Swaps on thousands of small businesses generally, and that help was available to those who had been caught out by the banks’ scandalous conduct.
Tessa then answered questions from the audience before joining many of the Somerset delegates for a buffet lunch before returning to Parliament.
Speaking from the Conference, BH&HPA Director General, Ros Pritchard OBE said:
“This was the first gathering of the industry in Westminster since Tessa Munt MP’s work to safeguard jobs on Somerset holiday parks, in the caravan manufacturing industry and across the rural economy when we faced the 2012 Budget. Tessa immediately saw the threat to caravan businesses from the Budget proposals, and secured a meeting between Treasury Ministers and the industry.”
“To my knowledge, this was the only such meeting throughout the entire consultation process so it was Somerset park owners, led by Tessa, who stood up for industry across the UK. Conference 2014 was the opportunity to say thank you; the warmth of delegates’ applause underlined the industry’s deep gratitude to Tessa.”
Sue Lodge, owner of Sunningcrest Caravan Park in Brean, who attended the Conference said:
“Tessa was instrumental in helping our industry avoid the Caravan Tax in 2012 and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to demonstrate our appreciation of her work to protect jobs in Somerset on parks like mine. Tessa is a very effective and approachable local MP and we are grateful that she continues to stay informed of current issues surrounding this key industry of her constituency”
6th February 2014