PEOPLE who have homes in Ryedale that they leave empty will have to pay more council tax, councillors have decided.

At a meeting of Ryedale District Council last Thursday, members voted 21 in favour with four abstentions for the new rules, which had already been recommended for approval by the authority’s policy and resources committee.

The charges will vary depending on how long the property has been empty. Currently there are about 250 qualifying properties in the district.

Cllr John Clark criticised the fact that it only applied to unfurnished properties. “If I have an empty unfurnished flat, for £100 I can furnish that,” he said.

“What difference does it make to the people of Ryedale if a property is furnished or unfurnished?”

Cllr Luke Ives accepted the point but said the policy would still make revenue for the council and “act as a deterrent” against people leaving homes empty.