Only on this website, not on any estate agent or council or community websites, is it revealed that purchasers/leaseholders of residential Sovereign Harbour property must pay a unique annual and increasingly expensive flood defence and harbour charge averaging £265 a year in 2018 in addition to council taxes, property insurance, management fees and ground rents. In no other flood area or harbour or marina area or private estate anywhere else in Britain, the UK, Europe or the world does this apply. A much wider flood zone area than just Sovereign Harbour is involved, affecting more than 17,000 homes, yet the Sovereign Harbour Trust, owned by The Wellcome Trust makes only the 4,300 Sovereign Harbour residents and their successors pay it, to the Environment Agency, not businesses including managing agents and property developers. As Members of Parliament and Eastbourne Borough and East Sussex County councillors have refused to help right this wrong applicable uniquely and solely to Sovereign Harbour residents, the matter has now been referred to overseas agencies . A second unique covenant requires owners/leaseholders of 369 South Harbour properties in the water feature precinct to pay a further annual charge of £328 in 2018. It is the only such water feature in the world that applies such a charge to properties overlooking it.
|Beaches||Council Tax Wrongs||Eastbourne||Disability Association|
|Forbes Clan||Forbes Clan 2||Integrated Council/NHS||General John Forbes|
|Pensioners Concerns||Property Guidelines||Sovereign Ward|
By Keith A. Forbes and his wife 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.
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Comments for this Guest Book
I write as a frequent Sovereign Harbour North resident, a relative of leaseholders at 16 San Diego Way. I really hope efforts there to get that building changed by collective enfranchisement to new owners are successful, with enough leaseholders willing to see it through with leases extended from the original 125 years to 999 years, to help improve investment market value. But the big stumbling block to full investment potential is that horrible and unique-to-Sovereign Harbour Annual Estate Rental Charge, principally as a flood defence charge and wrongly referred to as a Harbour Charge, that costs all freeholders and leaseholders an average of £265 in 2018. Until that is eliminated all both freehold and leasehold units are severely hampered by this expensive covenant on present and future freeholders and leaseholders that exists nowhere else in the UK or Europe or the world. What especially infuriates me is that in their most recent pamphlet, Sovereign Ward Conservative Councillors Penny di Cara, David Elkin, Gordon Jenkins, Paul Metcalfe, with Caroline Ansell and Robert Whippy, are all saying "Enough is Enough, Time for Action" about the stench coming from the Water Treatment Works. But they are not saying "Enough is Enough, Time for Action" about the inequity of the Estate Rental Charge that has gone on for far longer. Nor has this been mentioned in recent months by the Sovereign Harbour Residents Association. They need to be reminded that these injustices were legally created and/or continued when we had Labour Prime Ministers and that the present Conservative Government and Eastbourne Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament have done nothing to help right a massive wrong. If those mentioned by name above hope to be re-elected or elected they should work to right this wrong if they want the public to vote Conservative at the next general and county elections. It is going to become a major political issue. I am glad to hear it is now finally getting European Commission international news exposure, with the particularly unjust parts highlighted and offending public authorities. county council officials mentioned by name. Kevin Major, Reigate, Surrey, England, 11th September 2018
Interesting site that makes compelling reading. Thanks for all the information your website has provided that other local websites and estate agencies in your area have not. My wife and I have decided not to buy or lease any Sovereign Harbour property. We expect estate agents to supply the full facts about the true nature of your Estate Rental Charge and others, with accurate and up-to-date figures about the true running costs of each unit, not to hide behind disclaimers that mislead. We are truly appalled that your Member of Parliament and his followers have taken no action but have instead joined with the Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council in ensuring the Estate Rent Charge has been continued, instead of being stopped. It is outrageous that the situation still has not been corrected in the many years since the injustice began after Sovereign Harbour was created. James Richardson, Southgate, London N14. 27 April, 2018.
It is my sincere hope that once the new Sovereign Harbour Community Centre is opened, it will be administered and run by an outside entity, not by the Sovereign Harbour Community Association if it still exists, or the Sovereign Harbour Residents Association. They had their chances to get involved but instead carped and carped about it and lost a lot of support. They have failed to represent the interests of your community in many important respects. I am expressing these sentiments on behalf of a very elderly almost blind aunt who lives there and bitterly resents having to pay substantial over-the-top costs including a very expensive annual and ever-increasing Estate Rental Charge, with the full knowledge and approval of your town and county councillors, to a private trust that is not charged anywhere else in the world, payable only by Sovereign Harbour residents and not members of the general public who can roam anywhere in the harbour area, or any other residents in the entire country. She wants to move but her leased flat is caught in a local glut of more properties on the market than there are prospective buyers, in my view primarily because of that hated Estate Rental Charge. Gerald Noble, Palmer's Green, London, March 15, 2018.
Thank you so much for highlighting the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 that now apply to UK estate agents and other businesses involved in buying, leasing or selling Sovereign Harbour properties. It is good to know that a transactional decision is not just whether a consumer decides to purchase a property but also includes such things as to whether to view a property in the first place. Misleading actions or omissions on estate agents websites that have included either deliberate or accidental omission of mention of any deeds or covenants or restrictions unique to an area such as those we alone in the UK, Europe and the world have to bear there in Sovereign Harbour, or any publication of those extra costs and conditions, have most certainly have caused my family to no longer want to view or buy or rent or lease any Sovereign Harbour property because of the extra costs and conditions of the Estate Rent charge and other factors that nowhere else imposes. Pity. When that deed of covenant and the other one re the water charge are chucked then Sovereign Harbour should be a nicer place to live. James Murray, Lancaster, UK, 8 February 2018.
Does your Sovereign Harbour Residents Association really represent the interests of all Sovereign Harbour residents? I have to ask after noting it has now, grossly unfairly in my view, deleted its link to your fine Sovereign Harbour Gazette. Why! Because you tell the unvarnished truth, instead of propaganda, about the living constraints applicable there that no other UK or European or world entity has to endure, especially in its Estate Harbour charge? It now seems abundantly clear it never had any intention on working to eliminate that charge. What you have advocated by pointing out the discriminatory nature of the charge and the fact its liability continues to all potential future residents is far more effective than the SHRA merely moaning about it for 14 years If it really wants to see that charge abolished, it would have wanted to work with you and gone international instead of deleting its link to you. Gavin M. McLeod, Toronto, Canada, January 27, 2018.
It is interesting to note from its website preamble how and why your new Eastbourne and Sovereign Harbour Disability Association came about. Good for you, it needed to be said. It is nice to know that unlike the access group that discriminates against your Association for saying it will work with other groups but not yours, the local authority's Disability Involvement Group (DIG) is not similarly prejudiced and links to yours. I hope your Sovereign Harbour Residents Association will also show a mention of and link to your group, as it does with the EAG and DIG As a physically challenged person myself originally from New England I really like the way you have compared disability conditions in Eastbourne and the UK with those here in the USA, European Union and elsewhere. We are very pleased to link to your Association as a new member of our network. Thank you for being such a champion - a lonely voice - in your efforts to improve disability conditions in the UK. Yours seems to be the only one in the UK to accentuate this. When my disability action group has to go to the UK as part of our European network travel, we are all truly appalled by how your disabled (our handicapped) parking spaces in malls are constantly abused with never any remedial action by police or municipal authorities, other UK disabled facilities are regularly abused by the noon-disabled with no legal recourse, how we cannot get around London via subway or access many historic buildings, and more. Darren G. Wright, Newark, New Jersey, USA, December 28, 2017.
For those of you living in Sovereign Harbour and upset about your harbour charge, can I suggest you report this to the news media? I hope that good newspapers such as the Daily Mail, international magazines such as Time and Newsweek and UK media such as Saga and more will be interested in reporting how, with the active support of The Wellcome Trust that owns Premier Marinas you have to pay an Environmental Agency charge that no one else in Britain or Europe or the world has to bear. The Wellcome Trust has always had favourable publicity until now, but no longer. I bet that once the news gets round that because of this charge and the number of other problems you mention that clearly make your area unattractive and not a good investment when compared to other coastal and marina areas, buying and selling Sovereign Harbour properties will be so problematic that the harbour charge will have to cease and other changes will also have to be made. The Wellcome Trust should be ashamed of themselves for having allowing this to continue for so long. Your local residents group needs to do something concrete for the community instead of just pontificating. James Hayward, Hayling Island, Hampshire, UK, 14 December 2017.
Editor's note: Saga's interest and those of others will be very welcomed if they wish to investigate. Considerable publicity is anticipated for 2018.
It was great to see the Sovereign Harbour Disability Association (SHDA) has its own website and to note its intention to do its best to help finally bring Britain up to the same standards of disability competence and laws as the USA, Canada and all European Union countries now have. I am a US citizen who is a volunteer with US disability groups in my locale. I was in Sovereign Harbour recently to see a British elderly widowed and disabled aunt. While shopping with and for her in Eastbourne and taking her out to eat and to the theater and to see a movie at the Sovereign Park retail village, I was totally shocked by the number of disabled parking places and disabled toilet abuses in the town and lack of disabled parking places in the Sovereign Harbour residential area where she lives. The SHDA website was the only one in Eastbourne to both note these abuses and mention specifically that unless these supposedly-disability-friendly facilities are in a public place they are not legally enforceable but certainly should be, as they are routinely here in the USA and Europe, etc. I was hoping this would mean that the Eastbourne Access Group would link to the SHDA and vice-versa but while the SHDA does indeed link to the EAG this courtesy is not reciprocated. I'm sorry but I have to tell my US network of disability groups about my Eastbourne disabled-unfriendly experience, the lack of complete, candid and visitor-awareness information for visitors to Eastbourne on local disability and town websites and, in stark contrast, the willingness of the SHDA, which unlike the EAG is not local authority favored, to supply simple, true, full unvarnished facts. It is my hope relevant local websites and SHDA will want to link to each other in future, to help advance the clear need for far more comprehensive British disability legal protection. Kevin J McGuire, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, November 19, 2017.
Editor's notes: This good email got an angry response from the vice chairman of the EAG and another email of complaint from a local councillor. But nothing was said by them about seeing to it that the matters that so offended the writer would be addressed.
Also see earlier complaints from other visitors to Eastbourne and its Sovereign Harbour in our Guest Book comments below of 7 October 2017; 4 September 2017; 17 April 2017; 3 April 2017; 5 March 2017;
I write as a civic-minded citizen from the smallest of all the USA States who recently visited Eastbourne and its area for a long-overdue visit to an elderly widowed aunt living in Sovereign Harbour North. As a Liberal-thinker myself, I was initially intrigued when I got there to find you had recently re-elected a Mr Stephen Lloyd as your latest Member of Parliament. I had hoped that the liberal values which I hold dear would have been reflected in Eastbourne and its Sovereign Harbour. But I found major disappointments. In its manifesto, being a Lib Dem includes being fair, open and tolerant. The latter includes always fighting injustice and standing up for the underdog, the outsider, the individual, minority and vulnerable against the powerful. That everyone, no matter what your background, should have the same chance in life. The Lib Dems in the UK state they want to fight injustice, reduce inequality and break down the barriers that hold people back, whether it is in schools, the workplace or anywhere people are denied a fair chance. But instead, what has happened? Injustice, instead of justice, rules, in the Sovereign Harbour estate rent or harbour charge that nowhere else in the UK, Europe or the world with harbors and marinas have to pay, only the 3700 residents of the area, not even the outlying 17,000 residents also covered by the same flood zone. That UK law would never have been enacted in Europe or USA or Australia or anywhere else. It is outrageous, costing my not-well-off very elderly aunt about £250 pounds a year and with that liability also extending to anyone who later buys her small two bedroom apartment. And why should she have to pay as her Band E council tax nearly twice the amount that huge multi-million dollar properties in central London pay? She is registered disabled but is denied by senseless bureaucracy the right to have her disabled parking space outside her apartment, as all in Europe, USA, Canada and most other places elsewhere Stephen Lloyd, please get to work to get these injustices remedied soonest? Steven J Martelli, Providence, Rhode Island, USA, 02903. October 7, 2017.
I'm a Canadian visitor to your Sovereign Harbour area as as elderly, vulnerable and disabled widowed British aunt lives in Sovereign Harbour South. I am going to suggest she contact your Sovereign Harbour Disability Association. It has a lot of good information the Eastbourne Access Group does not have. My aunt and I had no idea, until I read it on your site, that the annual flood and harbour charge she pays is paid only by Sovereign Harbour residents, not others in the same flood area that includes coastal Bexhill, or anywhere else in the world. That is so unfair! And why does she have to pay for an additional water feature charge for a facility that does not work - and when it does, it seems folks can only look at it but not put their feet in it and children cannot play in it? I do not know of any other place with a similar feature that requires residents to pay a separate annual cost and just to look it. Grrrr! I am going to complain to my national daily newspaper back home about these unjust charges payable by your residents such as my aunt. David Tomlinson, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 4 September 2017.
It is good to know that savvy prospective national and international buyers are now beginning to resist buying a Sovereign Harbour property. I hope this news goes world-wide. Why should they and their successors, but no one else, none of the thousands more homeowners in the same flood defence area, be required to pay a combined harbour and flood defence charge that is not levied anywhere else in the world where harbours exist! Nor are such charges applicable anywhere else in the UK or Europe or the world where littoral drifts occur and coastal flood defence measures are taken. I was one of those initially interested but got totally put off after reading the revelations your website and other places have published. Only when Sovereign Harbour gets rid of this unique financial leprosy will I once again become interested. Why do Sovereign Harbour residents continue to put up with this injustice that is adversely affecting the value of their property when they sell because they have to pass the cost on to new buyers? Local estate agents also need to protest. David Adams, Nottingham, England, 10 August 2017.
Many thanks for single-handedly championing the cause for the estate harbour charge to be taken to the European Court of Human Rights. It is monstrously unfair that every Sovereign Harbour property owner has to pay but other owners in the affected area who have equal exposure do not. Yes, your Sovereign Harbour Residents Association ought to be approaching your area's Members of the European Parliament to see what they can do about righting this wrong. Sovereign Harbour is within that Court's jurisdiction and theirs and as the Strasbourg plenary session of July 6, 2017 believes - see http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/agenda/briefing/2017-07-03/24/human-rights - it can deal with the cases of Nobel laureate Liu Xiobo and Lee Ming-che, Eritrea, notably the cases of Abune Antonios and Dawit Isaac and Burundi, all of which are surely beyond the jurisdiction of the European Parliament, surely it can similarly deal with the Sovereign Harbour human rights and democracy topics wrongs which are, at least for the time being, well within its jurisdiction. When that issue is finally resolved I and others will be a lot more more inclined to move to Sovereign Harbour so nice in many respects but so much more unjustly expensive in other ways. James Cameron, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex, 27 June 2017.
I had long been wondering how long it would take before an honest, frank and candid but revealing full summary of your Sovereign Ward appeared. You summed it up accurately and succinctly, in a way no-one else has to date, in your Sovereign Harbour website under "Sovereign Ward" sub-site.. Anyway, your comments hit the nail on the head in every one of your five key points. Your councillors should now be formally asked to (a) get Sovereign Harbour included in their council's Tourist Accommodation plans; also Eastbourne beach inclusion; list of councils-recommended places for tourists and visitors to visit. And they should now act decisively to at long last scrap the harbour charge for some but not for all and higher council taxes for some but not for all in that nice but far too-expensive because of council taxes and harbour charges Sovereign Ward. Herbert Jones, Bexhill, East Sussex, 30 May, 2017.
This is meant for all councillors in and politicians covering this Sovereign Harbour Ward area which I am visiting to see a sick widowed mother who lives there. Our council taxes rose by 4.99 percent this year alone, after a 3 percent rise last year, because our central government has been steadily decreasing over the past six years amounts payable to local councils. Earlier this year, the Prime Minister ruled out a revaluation of the council tax system which has been so manifestly unfair for so many for 27 years. Only in the UK is the process not re-valued every 5 years to ensure fairness. Here in Eastbourne most of us have to pay council taxes nearly double those paid by huge, multi-million pound homes in London in band H. Since last year or so, the government imposed a significant tax surcharge on the purchase of second homes. A few weeks ago the Conservative Party manifesto announced, to our shock and horror, that the value of our homes will be included in our liability for future social care costs. This week, the Times of London revealed, but the BBC has not, that if the Conservatives win the forthcoming general election the BBC, when its present mandate expires in 2020, will be using it as an excuse in seeking to end the over 75 free TV license. The Times article of 21 May 2017 said in part: "Millions of over-75s could lose their free TV licences, as the BBC considers whether to stop giving the benefit to better-off pensioners. Supporters of the corporation, including Lord Bragg and Lord Puttnam, urged the BBC to means- test the perk, worth £147 a year, when it takes over responsibility from the government in 2020 for funding free licences. They believe that Theresa May’s decision to means-test winter fuel payments for pensioners has given the BBC the opportunity to follow suit. If the BBC does not restrict the perk, it faces losing £750m in licence-fee income from 2020. Bragg, 77, who pays voluntarily as part of a campaign by celebrities to persuade better-off pensioners to support the BBC, said: “It would be a very sensible idea.”…) The time has come to end this constant hugely menacing, ever-increasing tax assault, to instead cease completely any further Foreign Aid to all developing countries because those billions of pounds are enough in total to (a) reinstate full funding to local councils, (b) pay for our National Health Service deficits and (c) make future social care available to all at government cost, not just to those with assets less than £23,500, for the taxes we pay that latter do not. Only those whose personal assets including their properties are worth £500,000 or more should perhaps have to pay in full for social care. It is totally outrageous that our politicians in their manifestos expect us to pay costs no other nations in the world have to face. We need a new fair-to-all political party to right our political priority wrongs, none of the present ones do so and thus do not deserve our vote. If this general election was meant to be a decisive victory for the Prime Minister to strengthen the nation's hand in Brexit negotiations, it could well turn out to be a voting disaster if the present injustices not corrected. We do not want a good political majority at our hugely increased expense. David Evans, visiting Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne, BN23 5BN, 23 May 2017.
Correct me if I am wrong, please, but I sense from your informative website that people like myself contemplating retiring to Sovereign Habour should be prepared to pay considerably more than the norm for living there. I understand from your website that in addition to exceptionally high council taxes for a 2-3 bedroom flat and regular water and waste water charges when you buy a property, you will also have to pay an additional water charge amounting to about £250 that nowhere else in the world with a harbour, marina and nearby beach has to pay. And, if you want to live in that part of South Harbour, a further hefty water feature charge of £400 or so a year. Am I right? I sincerely hope not. Thomas Williams, Maidstone, Kent, 11 May 2017.
We do not have the exact sums but yours figures are broadly correct.
I write as an individual disabled person living for a short period in Hastings but visiting Eastbourne often. I like the fact that there is now a Sovereign Harbour Disability Association group and, rarely for a disability group, actually offering web space for the disabled to comment. I read with interest on your website how the Eastbourne Access Group (EAG) states on its website that it has representatives on the Eastbourne Disability Involvement Group (EDIG) and works closely with other groups and charities within the town. Hopefully, it will work closely with your new group. Also, that the terms of reference of EDIG state it cannot represent or champion individual cases or problems of disabled people. I am confused. Surely a council-operated involvement group means getting involved? Is it possible to raise this issue at the next EDIG meeting? And yes, glad you brought up the problem of no signed disabled residential parking in Sovereign Harbour. I have this problem whenever I visit friends living off your area's Atlantic Drive. We need new parking laws to champion parking for the disabled in private residential areas comparable to those abroad. You are quite right to point this out, area planning laws should require provision for private area disabled parking as well as public areas as they are in Europe, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, etc. and in key respects should be consistently uniform, not left to individual councils. Daniel Bailey, Hastings, 17 April 2017.
The Sovereign Harbour Disability Group (see our remit elsewhere) will be happy work as closely as possible with the Eastbourne Access Group and any other local disability group. We will gladly get involved in individual cases when merited. We have emailed EAG and the Possability people and asked if they would like to reciprocate website linkage. No reply as yet.
As a frequent visitor to your Sovereign Harbour to see my elderly parents, I am horrified by the ever-increasing amount of dog poo and dogs not on leashes on North Harbour beach. Why won't your Councils take action to stop this outrage! People who pay what you refer to as council (property) taxes deserve to have a place to walk without having to get rid of dog poo everywhere. It has become so bad that my parents are afraid to venture from the walkway to the beach. No wonder it is being scathingly referred to regionally, nationally and internationally as Eastbourne's Dog Poo Beach, by my American colleagues as Crappy Beach, which it now is for sure in more ways than one and as such a place to avoid, not invade until it is cleaned up and made crap-free. Dog owners in your area and nation-wide when in beach areas should have to pay a hefty local authority license fee per dog to pay for fencing--off designated beach areas. where dogs can run free. Dogs should not be allowed off the leash in your area year-round, there should be the same constraints as at other Eastbourne beaches from May to September. John D. Robertson, Toronto, Canada, April 15, 2017
Good comment. We need such action, fast.
Nice site, found it when searching for info about Sovereign Harbour for a couple of friends of mine who had been planning to relocate to your area from Leicester. Thanks for the great info about council taxes and Sovereign Harbour over-charges. Definitely agree with you that if both are not going to be corrected by MPs en masse - and they have had decades to address them, they need to be referred to the European Human Rights body asap. Well done for not hesitating to mention these when other Eastbourne and Sovereign Harbour websites do not. My friends now want to go to the marina areas on the Isle of Wight where no such injustices occur. They now know this for a fact, they checked. Thomas Ford, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex, 8 April 2017..
Glad to help.
Yeah, finally, a website that delves into the lack of routinely available residential disabled parking in Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour. The Eastbourne Access Group has not covered this at all. Am glad you guys who live there did and in some detail. It is not right that conditions should be so different by country instead of being standardized. When your councils act to require this to be routinely available from developers for all who are severely disabled your area will be wonderful for those of us who are. Kevin Jackson, Southgate, London, 3 April 2017.
Nice email, thank you. We are writing to our area councillors and will publish the results.
I write from Aberdeen, Scotland, as a severely disabled Briton hoping for a move to the Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour. l particularly liked your website description of the area as flat, scenic and strategic. You also mentioned how your council taxes do not include water or waste water (as they do throughout Scotland) and how you need to go to two private companies. But this does not have to be a problem, at least your water is metered and you pay for what you use and flush. But three critically important factors make me hesitate. Your council taxes for a small 2 bedroom flat are nearly twice as high as £multi-million properties in London. Your discriminatory harbour water charges in addition to your regular water supply costs are an affront, not levied anywhere else. And your residential designated disabled parking facilities are so lacking. These deficiencies simply do not occur in most other desirable places abroad for the disabled in particular to live in comfort. To avoid deterring potential newcomers please help to convey to your local councils and members of Parliament including the European Parliament before Brexit takes affect that they urgently need to address these three glaring deficiencies. Walter Ferguson, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, March 30, 2017.
We, proud citizens of France and Strasbourg write to express our incredulity over the hugely discriminatory property taxes and harbour water charges your citizens and residents of Sovereign Harbour in England are being forced to pay by your authorities. We wish to offer our solidarity with your people and extend our expression of support. We have no such inequality here in France. We do not have light taxes for the rich who own huge chateaux or palaces and heavy taxes for the not rich. It is incredible to us that anyone with a mere 2 or 3 bedroom house or apartment, as you state, should pay far more in taxes than a magnificent majestic mansion It is a great shame you English just accept these injustices instead of demonstrating your feelings fiercely, publicly and successfully. It is a great pity your country will be leaving the European Union within two years. Clearly, you needed to stay in the EU to right your tax wrongs. We hope that while you can do so your European Members of Parliament will be asked to take matters to the European Human Rights Court. We believe you would both win your case and be accorded damages in compensation for overpayment. Fraternally, for others also in my community, Jean-Paul leMaitre, Strasbourg 67200, France, March 17, 2017.
With your fresh new and candid approach to Eastbourne and Sovereign Harbour area, I hope you will be interested in my points of view. I have a special reason for writing. I am a Swiss national looking to buy or lease an apartment in the Sovereign Harbour area. Your website about it makes it seem especially appealing. I work for a multinational Swiss firm and will soon be UK-based in your south east coast. I have read very carefully your comments about your council or property taxes and harbour estate water charges on top of your regular water and waste water charges. You make a very good, compelling case. I agree completely that both are massively unfair, discriminatory, a potential turn-off. We do not have such discriminatory, unfair and undemocratic council or property taxes here. No one in Switzerland pays more in taxes than for Switzerland's grandest mansion, all pay appreciably less. That alone, that most pay nearly double what Buckingham Palace and area mansions pay, is scandalous. You are quite right to suggest it should be referred by British Members of the European Parliament to the European Human Rights entity. And yes, in nowhere in Switzerland or rest of Europe or rest of the world do taxpayers have to pay for the harbour estate water charge that owners or lessees of properties in Sovereign Harbour have to pay. We do not even pay that tax at the very exclusive marina and port town of Locarno on Lake Maggiore bordering Switzerland and Italy. That your taxpayers are suffering so should also come to the attention of the European and other courts of justice. Finally, I am shocked by the clear bias of Scottish members of parliament against the English. We have Swiss cantons with their own local equivalents of parliaments. We have different points of view about taxation and whether or not to join the European Union but are all proud to be Swiss, united under one federal flag. In the USA, many are fiercely Democratic or Republican, with wildly different views, but all are proud Americans. Not one of their states want political independence despite their huge political and socio-economic differences. What is in the Scots psyche that causes so many of them to be so bellicose, belligerent and blatantly anti-English? Scots are not Scottish in nationality but British, do not call themselves British but take advantage of British passports. Frankly, it does not make me want to visit Scotland with my wife and children. Not until the entirely unjustified resentment goes away. It is spoiling, not enhancing, Scotland's reputation. Jacques Offenbach, Geneva, Switzerland, March 16, 2017.
On the tourism front, when you in Britain have exceptionally long summer days, would it not make sense to offer tourists more choices in places to visit by extending opening hours in summer to match the longer daylight hours and reduce them in winter? I have made plans to visit relatives in Eastbourne and area this coming summer and was dismayed by so many tourist-unfriendly opening and closing hours of places of outstanding scenic or cultural or environmental attraction. When it does not even begin to get dark in most places until well after 10 pm in the mid-summer months why do tourism attractions like museums and castles have their last admissions at or around 4 pm with most closing by 5:30-6pm? Visit Eastbourne, English Heritage and other agencies ought to be concerned enough about this to want to do something to rectify it so that visitors can become more visitor-friendly. It seems so senseless not to want to improve matters for tourists who, in most cases, are the people, not the local residents, who pay the highest prices to visit such attractions but from where they are staying cannot get, because of rush hour traffic or crowded trains, to such places until at least mid-morning. They ought to be kept open during the long daylight hours of April to August and close early when the daylight hours are much shorter. Catherine Jack, Toronto, Canada, March 15, 2017.
I was totally appalled to read on your nice new website about Eastbourne's and the UK's council or property tax injustices dating back to 1991 and how your local government is so clearly anti-consumer, anti-democratic and discriminatory in the way it deals with appeals that it requires homeowners in Eastbourne and across your country to pay far more in taxes for an average family house than your Queen and other supremely wealthy families pay for massive Buckingham Palace and other sumptuous mansions. I just could not have believed, until I read your report, that folks in Eastbourne with two and three bedroom properties worth just a tiny fraction of what Buckingham Palace is worth, pay not just hugely more but nearly double the taxes paid by Buckingham Palace and other multi-million dollar homes. Clearly, your country is not democratic as you guys claim but autocratic. My respect for your royal family, once profound, has fallen to zero. As this is how your past and present British Government operates then you need some massive changes for the better and fast. I once had plans to visit Britain, but no more. When your government and your queen treats your own citizens in that outrageously unfair way in taxes it speaks volumes about the taxes you clearly also must make tourists pay. I am speechless and am passing this on to all and sundry. John P Johnson, Rhode Island, USA, March 14, 2016.
It's great you have written in detail about disabled parking abuses and what the disabled in the UK don't get. I can sense your anger and frustration. It deserves to become more of an international issue. As a severely disabled user myself of a disabled parking badge equivalent here in the USA I completely agree that more can and should be done as a matter of urgency to prevent further, constant abuse of badges. Plenty, if only your UK government and your local regional authorities - councils - would do it. Bring penalties for deliberate abuse up to international code, not the pathetic £60 in your country now, if and when abusers are caught. Make it a minimum of £160 - the average in every state of the USA, for first offence, double that for the second, triple plus impoundment of vehicle for the third. Only when scofflaws realize it carries a heavy penalty will they stop. Councils urgently need to make more money. Here's one way to give them the incentive to create enforcement. It is not fair to the truly disabled who have been deprived of a disabled parking space by a miscreant that persons with dogs visiting graveyards can be fined up to £500 by their council for allowing their dogs to foul a graveyard, but for disabled parking miscreants to be fined only £60 - if at all - for a human rights abuse. Stop immediately this absurd - and in other countries such as USA and Canada illegal - practice of disabled parking abuses in public places only. The Government and councils should require them to be in shopping malls also. They are where the majority of offences occur, not just in public parking places or on streets. Make all UK police law enforcement officers, as they are in USA and Canada, with powers to ticket offenders specifically including disabled parking scofflaws. Here, police seem to be totally indifferent in sad comparison. It's a terrible indictment of the UK for disabled visitors from abroad. Yes, there should be a better way of ensuring that only the truly disabled get a badge, with no central register. Merely putting the price up from £2.50 to £10 in your currency won't do it. The USA and Canada have central registers and always issue free badges. They work well. Disabled people are treated so badly in UK compared to in USA and Canada. I understand that in Florida and California most of those who appear in court are British abusers of our physically handicapped parking laws who think that because they can escape the law there they can also do so here in the USA. Wrong! David J. Jones, Louisville, Kentucky, USA, March 5, 2017.
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