DCSIMG

Flat same size, same view but £170 more

The flats on Devonshire Road (North Shore) which are in different Council Tax bandings. From left, Stephen Wagstaff (Torbay Court), Eileen Miles (Torbay Court) and Gerry Townson (Newquay Court).

The flats on Devonshire Road (North Shore) which are in different Council Tax bandings. From left, Stephen Wagstaff (Torbay Court), Eileen Miles (Torbay Court) and Gerry Townson (Newquay Court).

The flats are identical - with the same view and the same dimensions. Yet Eileen Miles must pay £170 a year more than her neighbour for council services.

Now she and other residents of flats on Devonshire Road, Blackpool, are battling to have their bills brought into line with the single property in their block which enjoys a lower council tax banding.

While 29 of the apartments that make up Devonshire Court are in band B, one is in band A after a previous owner successfully challenged the property’s valuation.

Now the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which decides bandings, has agreed to review them.

Previously a bid by Gerry Townson, secretary of Devonshire Court’s operating company which includes Torbay Court, Newquay Court. and Dawlish Court, to have all the other properties put into band A failed.

The Valuation Office, which oversees bandings, says a single property in Torbay Court had its charge reduced because of its view and proximity to the railway line.

Mr Townson said: “The block consists of 30 flats, all two bedrooms, all the same dimensions, all with a garage and all facing the same way.

“So how can one have a different view? Their neighbour’s balcony is just a few feet away, and we are all next to the railway.

“I feel strongly about this because a lot of elderly people live in the flats and they shouldn’t have to pay more when things are already tight.

“The difference is about £170 a year and every little bit helps. The situation is absolute nonsense.”

The council tax charge for a band A property in Blackpool is currently £1,015, while for a band B property it is £1,184.

Mrs Miles, 74, said: “I can go onto my balcony and talk to my neighbour because our properties are so close, yet I have to pay more for my council tax.

“It is an injustice. I am a pensioner and £170 is a lot of money to me.”

Stephen Wagstaff, who lives on the ground floor of Torbay Court, said: “I look out onto a railway line and houses so I cannot see how I have got a better view than the flat above if that is why I must pay more cuncil tax.”

All council tax bandings are based on property values in 1991.

A letter in response to an application by Mr Townson to have the properties rebanded says the value of the flats in 1991 would have been between £40,001 and £52,000 meaning “the current band of B is correct.”

It adds the single property which has been dropped into band A is “because of issues which are specific to that individual property (views etc) and issues appertaining to the adjacent railway line” which are considered “not relevant” to the other properties.

However the VOA has now said it will look again at the bandings.

A VOA spokesman said: “The VOA are reviewing all the council tax bands on Torbay Court, Newquay Court and Dawlish Court, in light of information from taxpayers. We will be writing to the residents shortly with our decisions.

“Where a taxpayer believes their band is wrong they can contact the VOA and if it is wrong we will change it free of charge.”

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