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Omitted from websites of estate agents, chartered surveyors, Eastbourne Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC), East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and the Sovereign Harbour Residents Association (SHRA) is any mention that all who purchase freehold and leasehold properties and their successors in Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour become covenanted to pay an Annual Estate Rentcharge (AER) of the type found nowhere else in Britain, Europe and the world. Sovereign Harbour is owned by the privately-held The Wellcome Trust which owns Premier Marinas Ltd, the Sovereign Harbour Trust (SHT) and its subsidiary Sovereign Harbour (Sea Defences) Community Interest Company Ltd.  The purpose of the latter is to charge Sovereign Harbour residents the Annual Estate Rentcharge, not give them any beneficial community interest. The SHT levies the AER and its Sea Defences CIC demands it. Nor does any estate agent website marketing any Sovereign Harbour residential property show a link to the SHT and its AER components. They make it clear the AER is not a nominal sum but a significant one, £263.55 per residential unit in 2020 irrespective of whether the property is worth £175,000 or £1.4 million. The AER is not instead of but in addition to council taxes, property insurance, management fees and ground rents. Deeds for each AER-registered property showing the AER obligation are registered by the harbour owners' private Sovereign Harbour Trust and/or its private Community Interest Company (both of which have an Eastbourne Borough Councillor on their boards of directors and trustees) with the Land Registry. Nor is it mentioned that some of the AER paid by Sovereign Harbour owner-residents (but not by The Wellcome Trust or Premier Marinas or any of their entities or any of the many property developers and other businesses that benefit much more than harbour residents) to the SHT is paid by the SHT to the Environment Agency for flood defence provided by the private Pevensey Bay Sea Defence Ltd (PBSD). Yet omitted from their websites is any mention that only the 3,500 Sovereign Harbour owner-residents, none of the 17,500 homeowners in Pevensey, Pevensey Bay,  Wealden District Council and Bexhill, Eastbourne or elsewhere in the UK pay this cost. Also omitted are that this flood defence scheme does not just include the 1 kilometre width of Sovereign Harbour but also the area 9 miles east of Sovereign Harbour from Pevensey Bay to Bexhill on Sea. Because estate agents do not refer to this principal AER covenant, mortgage companies are misled into believing only a harbour charge applies, not an estate rentcharge that mortgage companies either deny to applicants or charge extra to indemnify. A second unique covenant similarly undisclosed upfront by estate agents requires owners/leaseholders of 369 South Harbour properties within the water feature precinct to pay an (additional, not applicable elsewhere) annual water feature charge of more than £310. Potential new buyers of Sovereign Harbour property also need to know upfront that although Sovereign Harbour is a private estate they as buyers and exclusive payers of the AER get no exclusivity, the general public and their dogs can access Sovereign Harbour beaches, pathways and walkways at no cost.

 Eastbourne Council Tax Wrongs that need to be Righted

For 29 years modest homes and flats have paid hugely more than higher-value properties including multi-million pound London mansions

By Keith A. Forbes and Lois Ann Forbes. Both disabled, they live in Eastbourne and write, administer and webmaster this website. Keith is a member of the UK's The Society of Authors and an activist for the elderly and disabled.

Council Tax shocks for newcomers  

Council Taxes have been described by leading British newspapers as Britain's most hated taxes, for their nation-wide unfairness

UK newspapers As merely one prominent newspaper's international condemnation see published in June 2016. Massive inequities since 1991 have been deliberately ignored by the British Government and Members of Parliament of all political parties. They have never en masse changed the system, nor have county councillors, their Local Government Association, Citizens Advice Bureau, Rip-off Britain, etc. The UK's present system of low council taxes even at the highest Band H  for the most expensive central London properties but in comparison huge council taxes beyond the City of Westminster is manifestly unjust.

Councils throughout the UK have not changed or amended their Council Tax methodology via re-assessments and re-valuations on domestic (non-commercial) properties since 1991, unlike in the USA, Canada, Bermuda, Barbados, Australia, much of the EU, etc. There, they are required by law to review their property tax assessments at every five years, sometimes every year. In the re-evaluation process they try to ensure that properties of a similar assessed or market value, irrespective of whether a flat or townhouse or single family home, are taxed uniformly, in various extended tax bands based solely on assessed or comparable market value. Since Council Tax took over from Poll Tax in April 1991, there has never been a subsequent or thorough re-evaluation.


In total contrast to the above, business rates have increased every five years

Councils in Eastbourne and rest of the UK are required by law to and routinely re-assess their business rates (taxes, in lieu of domestic Council Tax) every five years.  Businesses pay their rates taxes via a complex formula, based not on property market values but perceived or assessed annual rental value. In some cases, it is known that this tax on businesses is merely a fraction of what domestic property owners or occupiers have to pay in Council Taxes. For example, a hotel or guest house or bed-and-breakfast business that uses a 2-3 bedroom detached cottage or similar building on the property as the residence of the property's manager will pay in rates the equivalent of Band A in Council Tax but if it was not such a business the domestic property Council Tax could easily be a C, D or E.  

From March 2020 during the Covid 19 pandemic crisis, with most businesses closed there was relief from business rates. But there has been no relief to owners or leaseholders of residential properties.


There has to be a council (property) tax on properties in the local authority

But it has to be seen to be balanced, fair, equitable, logical and consistent. It should be a reliable indicator of the fair market value of a property including the house or flat or cottage or bungalow, land on which it sits, what outbuildings or garages there are. It should not matter for evaluation purposes whether the property is a house or flat or cottage or bungalow, exactly the same criteria should apply, instead of it being so discriminatory as it is now. What should matter are the actual or accurately assessed market price, a legislative methodology to ensure the entire valuation system is reviewed regularly at least every five years, the assessment is open enough to ensure that every property bought and or sold routinely shows both its market price and its council or property tax on property particulars and by doing so avoid any accusation of discrimination, with the valuation of every property open for public inspection to achieve complete transparency.  It should not be just a single isolated local authority tax but one mindful of and comparable with council taxes in other areas. It should have enough council tax banding width to easily ensure that unless a property is equal in total value to Buckingham Palace it should be council taxed at merely a fraction of the latter's council tax. And if/when market prices fall instead of going up, the property tax should also fall.

Examples of unfair comparative council taxes

There is no single uniform council tax system throughout the UK. Every every council can set its own council taxes providing they abide by the parameters established as 1991 Property Valuation Bands. That is why there are such huge differences. Because the UK Council or Property Tax system completely ignores a property's land and outbuildings, places like Buckingham Palace and all other massive properties, which often have significant areas of land including lakes and outbuildings galore, especially those in exceptionally affluent areas, the latter pay far less tax than leasehold not freehold 2 bedroom flats or apartments with no land our garages or outbuildings owned by the property. Under the present system dating back to 1991 and never changed since then, with Council Tax Bands of only A to H, not A-Z, the less well-off are significantly over-taxed and the much more affluent are hugely under-taxed. 

Buckingham Palace, London

Unfortunately, no such fair, decent, consistent, regularly updated methodology applies to Council Taxes in Eastbourne, see Instead, it and its East Sussex Council partner applies such a massively unfair council tax system - for the latest 2019-2020 costs see - that even small modest two bedroom flats with a market value of under £260,000 and no property-owned land at all pay appreciably more Council Tax than (a) other local properties with an often far higher market value. One example is Buckingham Palace, London, 775 rooms, 90 miles away, worth 980 billion and similar multi-million properties in central London. See Their Council Tax Band H 2019-220 cost is £1337.62 (compared to Eastbourne's Band H cost of £3432.08 below). In comparison, in Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour, a modest (market value £260,000) 2 bedroom leased (not owned) flat, appreciably less than the 2020 market value of a domestic Eastbourne home, the 2019-2020 Council Tax band is E at the cost of  £2,401.83, nearly double the Council Tax for Band H multi-bedroom properties worth millions of pounds in London including Buckingham Palace.

Eastbourne 2020-2021 Council Taxes

Above: Eastbourne 2020-2021 Council Taxes, compared with  2020-2021 City of Westminster Council Taxes below

Band Westminster City Council Greater London Authority Total
A £298.81 £221.38 £520.19
B £348.61 £258.28 £606.89
C £398.41 £295.17 £693.58
D £448.21 £332.07 £780.28
E £547.81 £405.86 £953.67
F £647.41 £479.66 £1,127.07
G £747.02 £553.45 £1,300.47
H £896.42 £664.14 £1,560.56

City of Westminster, London, 2020-2021 Council Taxes, compared with Eastbourne 2020-2021 Council Taxes above

Eastbourne semi-detached houseWhy does this Eastbourne semi-detached house, so much smaller in size and value than Buckingham Palace shown above and other central London multi-million pound properties, have to pay so much more in Council Tax than they do? The UK is the only place in the democratic world where this grotesque Human Rights Wrong exists. 

Bungalows have an unjustifiably higher Council Tax banding compared to single family homes with more than one storey and worth much more.  They may take more airspace than the latter but their owners pay more in Council Taxes than properties with more than one floor and staircase and have a higher market value. 

In contrast, park homes pay less. For example, a spacious 2-bedrrom £224,950 bungalow park home at Eastbourne Heights, Oak Tree Lane, Eastbourne, was advertised for sale in January 2017 with Council Tax Band A. 

Councils could save huge amounts of money annually in salaries and benefits presently paid to their employees by combining Council Taxes and Business Rates into one new uniformly applied Property Tax system applicable to all domestic owners or occupiers and businesses based solely on present market value, and re-assessed every five years. 

In the USA and beyond, property taxes are based on two components: a home’s assessed value and the county’s tax rate. Taxes rise or fall depending on current or accurately assessed values. 

Money for council taxesIn the USA and elsewhere, but not in the UK, property tax exemptions or heavy discounts for the disabled seniors, those over 65, are common USA-wide, see those in Florida at,also Washington State at and Georgia at as merely three examples of what all American states without exception and their local authorities have long been offering routinely to their senior citizens over 65 mostly when earning under US$50,000 annually, the disabled of any age and military veterans. Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, and European countries have followed the US example. There, they either no longer charge their disabled or over 65 year old owner-residents any council-tax equivalent property taxes if below a certain taxable value or apply a generous discount of up to 50%. In stark contrast, most elderly in the UK who are home owners or renters get no Council Tax relief at all unless they are either earning a means-tested minimum income to qualify or, if (a) disabled and (b) can qualify in one-band facilities requirements where they live.

In the USA, in 2019 the median property tax throughout the country was $2,232. (The only exceptions to this are Westchester and Rockland counties, both in New York). Hugely more than in London, England. The median is only $216 a year in Tunica County, Mississippi.

Here in the UK, revenues raised from property taxes typically pay for things like schools, parks, libraries, transportation infrastructures. They used to include police and fire services but in places like Eastbourne, East Sussex, no longer. Council taxes on domestic properties have never been reduced, even when market prices of properties have declined significantly.

In none of the cities or towns of Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc. do any such similar massive property tax wrongs occur. Everywhere else revises their methodology at least once every five years and makes appropriate corrections to help ensure no one property is taxed higher than an equivalently priced property. There, property taxes are paid on both land and buildings owned by that property. 

These gross UK wrongs need to be reported to the European Court of Human Rights and Human Rights commissioners in Strasbourg, New York and elsewhere.


Property Valuation Bands

A Up to and including £40,000  
B £40,001 £52,000
C £52,001 £68,000
D £68,001 £88,000
E 88,001 £120,000
F £120,001 £160,000
G £160,001 £320,000
H More than £320,000  

These property Valuation Bands, still being used today, are, in 2018, 27 years out-of-date. Very few properties in the Eastbourne area are worth less than £88.000 and there are many properties worth considerably more than 320,000. For current prices in Eastbourne see It is obscenely unfair, a massive Human Rights wrong, that all properties valued below £320,000 should have to pay such high Council Taxes compared to properties worth from more than £320,000 to possibly millions of pounds which pay no additional Council Taxes at all.


Eastbourne Borough Council Council Taxes applicable in 2020-2021

council tax additionsWhy are there only 8 banding areas of A-H? There should be 26, covering A-Z. As mentioned earlier, It is massively unfair that all properties valued below £320,000 should have to pay such high Council Taxes compared to properties worth from more than £320,000 to possibly millions of pounds which pay no additional Council Taxes at all. See 

Council Taxes for 2020-2021 are 4% higher than in 2019-2020.

Council Taxes for 2019-2020 were 5.6% higher than those in 2017-2018 which were nearly 6% higher than those shown for 2016-2017 which were increased by 3% from the previous year. 

Eastbourne has the highest Council Taxes in the country, with the latter not including Water or Waste Water rates. The Water and Waste Water are paid separately. There is an additional charge for Police presence and protection, unlike in most other Council Tax areas. Plus, if you live in the Sovereign Harbour area, whether you live in a house or flat each owner or leaseholder or renter has to pay an additional charge of about £260 a year as an Estate Rental Charge for sea defences and harbour maintenance, the only such charge of its type anywhere else in the UK or Europe or the world. Plus, if you live in the applicable section of Sovereign Harbour South, there is a separate Water Feature charge. New Sovereign Harbour area residents do not pay the same rate of Council Taxes as the rest of Eastbourne, they are at least one band higher even when the market values of Sovereign Harbour houses or flats are appreciably lower than in, for example, Meads. These grossly unfair anomalies are now receiving extensive unfavorable publicity throughout USA, Canada, etc. 

The table above shows the Council Tax required by the four authorities listed above.  Over 3% of the increase is for higher social welfare funding alone - to benefit only some, by no means all - of their council tax payers, only those with total assets of under £16,250. Why are they being raised at all? Because Members of Parliament, collectively, irrespective of political parties, but led by Conservative Governments have voted en masse over the past six years to decrease significantly the funding they give to local councils, including all the social care costs the Parliament, not local councils, once paid for. Which means the latter have to both pass on the cost to their taxpayers and cut many council services they once had. Yet the central government, not local councils, continues to fund all hospitals. Why one but not the other, especially when the National Health Service is so chronically in need of extra staff and more funding to help cope with unprecedented demand that have made headlines galore in the news media?   Members of Parliament, not just local councils, are principally to blame for all local council tax increases over the past  six years. Yet MPs have not ever, in the last 26 years, legislated for wholesale revisions, or re-valuations, in Council Tax methodology, unlike in all other countries. If they truly represented, instead of ignoring for so long in these respects, the hopes and needs of their constituents they would legislate for nationwide revaluations first, then try to soften the blow with justification for Council Tax increases.

Constant additions to council taxes without simultaneous proper re-valuations are costing homeowners disproportionately, especially those in council tax bands D and E

It is stated, wrongly, that the amount of Council Tax you pay is based on the value of your property. That was deemed to be the case in April 1991, 26 years ago, when Council Taxes started but it is manifestly obvious it is not the case today. It is probable that as many as 46% of all Eastbourne homes could be wrongly Council Taxed when present market values are taken into account.

Why are the total area of properties, including land, garages and outbuildings, ignored? In the democratic counties (of which the UK is clearly not, based on Council Tax injustices), they must by law be included.

The Valuation Office, the Government's agency ultimately responsible for Council Taxes in the Eastbourne area and beyond, has no transparency. Its website does not allow you to see council taxes payable elsewhere. In other parts of the world, the information is readily available. In Scotland, by contrast, even though the same injustices apply, you can access the Scottish Assessors Association website and, if you are patient enough, can find out online council tax details for any Scottish property. 

In most of Eastbourne, persons buying or selling apartments, flats and other types of homes cannot compare different Council Tax rates in different areas before they buy. Why not? Because estate agents now hardly ever make any mention of the Council Tax payable at the property being marketed. Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act Act 2008 they are now required by law to do so. Local councils must therefore permit those of us in small or modest sized homes and flats in one area of Eastbourne to know they will pay appreciably more in Council Taxes in Bands D and E than on other areas of Eastbourne. When you compare Council Tax bands in Sovereign Harbour with other parts of Eastbourne you come across some outrageous higher Council Tax banding here compared to there. The present banding system is so blatantly unfair that even when properties in a certain apartment building have more bedrooms than others, or garages when others do not, homeowners often pay the same in Council Tax. And properties such as apartment buildings which are adjacent to each other, and have similar pricing and facilities, such as at Eugene Way and at 12, 14 and 16 San Diego Way, both in Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour North, have different Council Taxes. At Eugene Way they are a D but at 16 San Diego Way they are an E. On the topic of apartments or flats, their owners incur restrictions such as not having central heating, not being able to hang their washed clothes on their balconies, not being able to have their own garages, not having any land of their own, etc. but pay more in council tax than single family homes with all these features. At all the three Chatsworth Strand buildings, some have garages while others do not, yet all pay the same council tax.

After Council Tax Hikes: Impact on Properties and People. See

Bold, liberal Tax Reforms. See

Campaign for Reform of Council Tax. see (But in the opinion of the authors this is NOT the right way to reform it)

The case for Reform of Britain's Upside Down Taxes. See

Social Care Needs More Money, But Council Tax is not the way to deliver it. See


Council Tax discounts and exemptions when applicants are deemed to qualify


Appeals against Council Tax Valuation Bands, presently

See to: Listing Officer, Valuation Office, St. Anne's House. Eastbourne BN21 3LG. Telephone: 03000 501 501. Fax: 01323 530 099.  

Making an appeal against a Council Tax Reduction decision. If you as a newcomer believe you are being unfairly Council Tax-banded, be sure to lodge your appeal within six months of your property purchase or rental or lease. To appeal against the Valuation Office's decision regarding a Council Tax Reduction application, you must write to that office identifying the decision and telling them why you think they are wrong. The technical term for this is making a ‘grievance." The Valuation Office  will write to you within two months from the date of receipt. It will tell you whether it agree or not with your appeal (grievance). If after it writes, you still disagree, or if you have not been replied within two months from the date the Valuation Office has received your appeal (grievance) then you may appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service. You will need to fill in an appeal form. You can do this online at or by telephoning: 0300 123 1033. You must send your appeal to the Valuation Tribunal within two months of the date of it writing to you, or if you have not received a reply within two months. Note that well over 90% appeals are dismissed, with the valuation office dismissing them for such things as unobstructed sea views very unfairly when this has already been built into the market place paid by a buyer. Also, instead of having appeals heard at the Eastbourne Valuation Office they are heard in often-out-of-the way areas which often make it difficult for appellants to attend. When they don't attend, their appeals are dismissed. 

If this appeal procedure does not work, and you genuinely feel you have good grounds, then appeal to your Member of Parliament - and, importantly - also your Members of the European Parliament mentioned below.


Recommended urgent action


Members of Parliament and MEPs who should be helping to right the above wrongs

Our MP, Caroline Ansell, since December 12, 2019, Conservative. Phone 01323 734940. Email Website 


This author also, on a daily basis, writes, edits, manages, publishes and web-masters the following

165-plus webfiles of Bermuda Online

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Keith A. Forbes at
© 2020. Revised: December 3, 2020