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Last Updated: Friday, 13 April 2007, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
Tax change 'threat' to rural loos
Public toilets sign
Some councils say they have been hit by hefty tax bills
Public toilets in rural Wales are under threat following changes to tax rules, according to some community councils.

Under the old business rate relief scheme they did not have to pay tax.

Llanycrwys Community Council in north Carmarthenshire, which has set its annual precept (tax income) at 750, has been landed with a bill of 604.

The Labour-run Welsh Assembly Government said the changes brought in on 1 April doubled the number of businesses eligible for rate relief.

Joan Stacey, clerk to Llanycrwys community council, said: "It was quite a shock to get a bill for 604 - we only ask for 750 a year to spend on the community."

Nearby Cynwyl Gaeo council, which took over the running of the public toilets in its area from Carmarthenshire Council, has also been hit.

Clerk Mary Jones said: "Every week we have to pay for someone to clean the toilets.

Relief scheme

"When we took them over we spent 3,000 on making them suitable for disabled people."

The Welsh Assembly Government said the original rate relief scheme had been designed to help businesses in rural areas hit by the outbreak of foot and mouth.

"The new scheme applies from 1 April and almost half of all businesses across the whole of Wales will benefit," said a spokesperson.

They said it compared to 21% of businesses in mainly rural areas that qualified under the old system.

Serious issue

The Welsh Liberal Democrats said the issue of sustaining public toilet facilities was a serious one - particularly in rural areas of Wales where they supported tourism.

"Perhaps in this case Carmarthenshire Council and the tourism department at the assembly government should offer more help," said a spokesperson.

Welsh Conservative Assembly leader and finance spokesman Nick Bourne said: "There are genuine concerns about the levels of taxation facing businesses and communities across Wales.

"We want to ensure business rates are kept to as low a level as possible to allow more businesses and more communities to invest more of their own money into their own futures."




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