A bed tax could help make our city beautiful

Street Lights and fountains in Baden Baden
Street Lights and fountains in Baden Baden (CC-BYSA2) by Harald Hoyer

Having just returned from a visit to Baden-Baden in Southern Germany, I was impressed how well-tended the civic gardens were, at a time when back home, York Council is employing a ‘scorched earth’ policy to our own parks.

The Germans are living the Green Dream too, with great public transport, cycles everywhere, 20mph/30kmh zones on all residential roads, and hardly any traffic in the town centre.  I asked where the traffic went.  The answer: Underground!  There are tunnels beneath the town, built in the 1980s, used daily by 20,000 vehicles.

I wondered how a town, smaller in population than Harrogate, could afford such infrastructure.  I’m still not sure, but I didn’t begrudge paying the €3.50 “City Tax” to stay in my hotel, as my tourist contribution to the upkeep of the town, indicated clearly as a simple additional item on my bill.

York really should introduce such a tourist “bed tax” in common with Paris, Rome, Milan, Venice, Pisa, Ghent, Dubrovnik, Vancouver, Lisbon, Kiev, Seattle, Boston, Las Vegas, and recently Barcelona.  I could go on.  York is missing out on this vital revenue, whilst cutting back on bins, parks, and archeaology and conservation advice.  Time to look again at a “bed tax” for visitors which could be used for the good of our city.

Cllr Dave Taylor

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