Lib Dems target tourist hotspots with school holiday and tax vow

Liberal Democrats supporters in the main hall as they listen to speeches at the Liberal Democrats an

Liberal Democrats supporters in the main hall as they listen to speeches at the Liberal Democrats annual conference, Bournemouth International Centre Ben Birchall/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Liberal Democrats put tourist hotspots in their sights with plans to cut VAT for hotels and attractions and allow more flexible school holidays.

Activists at its annual conference in Bournemouth, who are given a vote on their party's stance, agreed to back many in the hospitality industry who have been campaigning for a tax cut from 20pc to 5pc – a move that would be allowed under European Union regulations.

Members also voted to row back from 'socially divisive' rules which stop parents taking their children out of school during term time.

Under the proposal headteachers would be allowed to grant up to 10 days of term-time absence in 'special circumstances'.

James Wright, who stood as a candidate in Norwich North and is a school governor, said he had never supported criminalising parents who had different arrangements to the norm.

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'I fully recognise that fact that parents do need to make different choices and support the fact that, as a party we are saying that should be in negotiation between the headteacher and the parents, rather than there being some government punishment for non-attendance.'

He added that they also recognised that children whose parents worked in the tourism industry could not take their holidays at the same time.

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'Having a degree of flexibility and schools making use of additional powers to vary the school year is a way of handling that,' he said.

The party claimed that the ban on children missing lessons was 'socially divisive'.

It said poorer families felt forced to risk being prosecuted for breaking the rules or had to miss out on holidays altogether because travel companies hiked prices up during the school summer break.

The existing rules, introduced by Michael Gove while the Lib Dems were in coalition with the Tories, impose the stricter measure of banning term-time holidays except in 'exceptional circumstances'.

Liberal Democrat spokesman John Pugh said: 'Many employees have no choice when to take their holidays.

'People in some areas have to work all through the summer at the height of the tourism season.'

What you think of the Liberal Democrat plans for changes to the school holiday rules? Email with your full contact details.

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