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The Sussex mansion that inspired Cluedo

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One morning last week I boarded a train in London, more than a little nervous about the contents of my luggage, which included a rope, candlestick, lead piping, wrench and a hypodermic needle.

How, I wondered, would I explain their presence if I were apprehended by a police officer en route? All I could hope was that the representative of Her Majesty’s constabulary would be familiar with Cluedo and its murder weapons, and would chuckle as I explained — and let me on my way.

For I was heading to No. 4, Tudor Close, in the village of Rottingdean, near Brighton, East Sussex, a mock-Tudor pile that inspired the classic whodunnit board game that, since its invention more than 70 years ago, has sold in its millions worldwide.

Tudor Close, the home that inspired the classic boardgame Cluedo, has gone on the market for 'offers above £1million

Tudor Close, the home that inspired the classic boardgame Cluedo, has gone on the market for ‘offers above £1million

The first edition of the iconic board game was even named Murder at Tudor Close after the former hotel before it sold millions of copies around the world

The first edition of the iconic board game was even named Murder at Tudor Close after the former hotel before it sold millions of copies around the world

A historic home that inspired Cluedo and once hosted Hollywood icons including Cary Grant, Bette Davis and Errol Flynn has gone up for sale. (Pictured, Cary Grant, left, and Sir Laurence Olivier, right)

A historic home that inspired Cluedo and once hosted Hollywood icons including Cary Grant, Bette Davis and Errol Flynn has gone up for sale. (Pictured, Cary Grant, left, and Sir Laurence Olivier, right)

Anthony Pratt and his wife Elva, in the early 1940s, around the time they devised their mystery game

Anthony Pratt and his wife Elva, in the early 1940s, around the time they devised their mystery game

There are several weapons plus locations (billiard room, ballroom, conservatory etc) where the dastardly deed is done and players move around the board, collecting clues to identify the perpetrator

 There are several weapons plus locations (billiard room, ballroom, conservatory etc) where the dastardly deed is done and players move around the board, collecting clues to identify the perpetrator

The Grade II building became the inspiration for the murder mystery classic after a 1937 refurbishment introduced a billiards room, ball room, ladies bar and restaurant

The Grade II building became the inspiration for the murder mystery classic after a 1937 refurbishment introduced a billiards room, ball room, ladies bar and restaurant

And my collection of ‘weapons’? Props for my own murder-mystery experience.

Many years ago, the property — which has just gone on the market for ‘over £1 million’ — was part of a cosy hotel where the guests were first thrilled with those weapons, blood-curdling screams and ‘dead’ bodies on murder-mystery evenings.

And they weren’t just any old guests. They were the cream of A-list Hollywood, ranging from Cary Grant and Errol Flynn, to Bette Davis and Merle Oberon, to Laurence Olivier and Randolph Scott.

The Tudor Close Hotel shut in 1952 and reverted to individual homes. Today, No. 4, which formed its entrance, foyer and lounge, is a charming four-bedroom house where Denise and Trevor Hopper have lived for a decade.

‘Professor Plum did it, in the library, with the lead piping!’ I say to Denise as she opens the door. She rolls her eyes having heard it all before — and introduces me to Trevor.

The couple, who are in their 70s, are perfect ambassadors for homicidal board games, beautiful architecture and kindly hospitality.

‘Before the pandemic, we hosted a murder mystery night of our own,’ says Denise, a retired art teacher. ‘I gave everybody a script and a character and told them what costumes to wear. They were all wonderful.

‘Trevor played the butler and I the maid. And while people were having a drink in the bar, I had to scream at the top of my voice and everyone ran in to find me with the body. Though, it was just fake legs sticking out of a box.’

Tudor Close was built in 1929 from a derelict set of farm buildings by the developer Charles W. Neville. It was intended to be seven self-contained dwellings but once the Great Depression hit, they didn’t sell and so Neville combined them into a hotel.

‘It is a mix of mock Tudor and Elizabethan architecture, which was all the rage then,’ says Trevor, a retired professor who used to teach business and accounting. ‘They called the style “Tudorbethan”. The hotel was luxurious, with tennis courts, an outdoor pool, a bar and billiard room.’

It became so successful with American film stars of the 1930s and 1940s that Neville quipped he was attracting more business from Hollywood than Britain.

The parents of Julie Andrews worked at the hotel in its heyday and the Mary Poppins’ star is said to have kick-started her singing career there as a child performer.

Estate agents over-use the word ‘stunning’ — but Grade II-listed Tudor Close is nothing short of this, with ancient ships’ timbers, parquet floors, stone fireplaces, carvings and leadlight windows.

In 1943 Pratt devised a board game for two to six players who take on the role of suspects — Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard and Mrs Peacock et al

In 1943 Pratt devised a board game for two to six players who take on the role of suspects — Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard and Mrs Peacock et al

The current owners say they have continued the tradition and hosted popular Cluedo themed parties over the years there

The current owners say they have continued the tradition and hosted popular Cluedo themed parties over the years there

In 1953, the company offered to buy the rights to Cluedo from the couple for what turned out to be almost a pittance

 In 1953, the company offered to buy the rights to Cluedo from the couple for what turned out to be almost a pittance

The Hoppers will be sad to leave, but their home has a shared garden — once the site of the hotel pool — and they are moving to a nearby property with a private garden where their grandchildren can play without disturbing the neighbours.

So how did Cluedo come about? It was while working as hotel entertainments manager that pianist Anthony Pratt and wife Elva began their murder-mystery evenings.

In 1943 Pratt devised a board game for two to six players who take on the role of suspects — Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard and Mrs Peacock et al. There are several weapons plus locations (billiard room, ballroom, conservatory etc) where the dastardly deed is done and players move around the board, collecting clues to identify the perpetrator.

The first version of the game was called Murder At Tudor Close. Manufacturer John Waddington Ltd began producing it for the mass market in 1949.

Jonathan Foster, in his 2013 book The Story Of Cluedo, claimed Waddingtons was less than fair with Anthony and Elva when it came to sharing the profits from the game. In 1953, the company offered to buy the rights to Cluedo from the couple for what turned out to be almost a pittance.

‘Waddingtons told Anthony that the game wasn’t selling very well, particularly in America,’ Foster wrote. ‘And they offered him a deal: sign over the international rights to Cluedo for a one-off payment of £5,000. The deal would mean that he would still get the royalties from Cluedo sales in the UK.’

The Hoppers will be sad to leave, but their home has a shared garden — once the site of the hotel pool — and they are moving to a nearby property with a private garden where their grandchildren can play without disturbing the neighbours

The Hoppers will be sad to leave, but their home has a shared garden — once the site of the hotel pool — and they are moving to a nearby property with a private garden where their grandchildren can play without disturbing the neighbours

Over the years, more characters and new weapons have been added (and removed) as the game has been updated, and it has inspired books, TV series and films

Over the years, more characters and new weapons have been added (and removed) as the game has been updated, and it has inspired books, TV series and films

The Tudor Close Hotel shut in 1952 and reverted to individual homes. Today, No. 4, which formed its entrance, foyer and lounge, is a charming four-bedroom house where Denise and Trevor Hopper have lived for a decade

The Tudor Close Hotel shut in 1952 and reverted to individual homes. Today, No. 4, which formed its entrance, foyer and lounge, is a charming four-bedroom house where Denise and Trevor Hopper have lived for a decade

That £5,000 is worth about £143,000 today and was no small sum — until you consider that 150 million Cluedo sets have been sold in 40 countries.

‘Anthony could have negotiated a much better deal had he known just how important Cluedo was to Waddingtons and Parker Brothers [holder of U.S. rights] — and indeed that it was actually selling well in America,’ concludes Foster.

In 1990, inventor Anthony claimed not to have been bothered by the riches that failed to come his way.

‘A great deal of fun went into it,’ he said, ‘so why grumble?’ He died four years later, aged 90.

Over the years, more characters and new weapons have been added (and removed) as the game has been updated, and it has inspired books, TV series and films. Today it is owned by the U.S. company Hasbro.

Back at No.4, the Hoppers seem slightly unnerved when I remove a wrench and a magnifying glass from my bag. But they are good sports and Trevor agrees to play our murder victim.

‘It was Denise, with the candlestick, in the lounge!’ I shout.

It was then that the Hoppers decided they had indulged me enough and my personal murder-mystery experience concluded. And I still don’t know whodunnit!

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Varakar says law on right to seek remote working can ‘change the culture’

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that a proposed law giving people the right to request remote working arrangements will mean employers are more likely to grant them for fear of being brought to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Mr Varadkar said he believes the legislation can “change the culture” and that employers will embrace it.

The general scheme of a Bill to provide for remote working will be brought to the Cabinet on Tuesday by Minister for Enterprise Mr Varadkar. It will set out a legal framework whereby an employer can either approve or reject a request to work remotely from an employee.

Under the plans – which Mr Varadkar hopes to have enacted in the next couple of months – there will be an independent appeals process through the WRC.

Speaking ahead of the publication of the outline of the legislation Mr Varadkar said it will require employers to take a request seriously, to respond within a defined timeframe and “to give a good reason that actually stacks up if they were challenged.”

He added: “It can change the culture and move the dial so that employers will be more likely to say yes for fear of being taken to the WRC or to court if they say no.”

Embrace

Mr Varadkar predicted that “the vast majority of employers are going to embrace this.”

He added: “Everyone sees the benefits of home working/remote working – reduced traffic, reduced crowding in office spaces and also it’s very much an employees’ market at the moment.

“Employers are finding it really hard to hire staff and retain staff and it makes sense I think if you’re an employer or running a business to embrace new models of working because that’s how you’re going to get staff. It’s also how you’re going to keep staff.”

The Labour Party has argued that the Government’s plans will not go far enough with employment spokeswoman Senator Maire Sherlock saying the Government must guarantee the right to flexible work.

Mr Varadkar said the Bill won’t do this.

He said there was a lot of work done with the Attorney General and “Government can only interfere in contracts that employers and employees have signed to a certain extent.”

He also pointed out that remote working isn’t always going to be possible.

“It’s going to be very difficult to do in education, in healthcare, in manufacturing, hospitality for example.

“What we want to do is get to a position whereby remote working/home working becomes a choice and that employers facilitate that provided the business gets done and provided public services don’t suffer.”

Important day

Mr Varadkar said that Monday – the start of the phased return to workplaces – “is an important day as we learn to live with Covid, as we move from the emergency phase into a phase where we return to some semblance of normality.”

He said that the Government does not want things to go back to the old normal.

“We want to see more remote working, more home working, more hybrid working”.

Mr Varadkar said that there was a meeting of Government officials, unions and employer groups on Monday and it was agreed that there will be a new work safety protocol that will offer guidelines on the return to work over the coming weeks.

He said: “We’ll try to make permanent some of those things that were always a good idea in a work place such as good air quality to reduce the risk of the transmission of viruses, hygiene, avoiding overcrowding and that work is very much underway”.

He expects the updated protocol to be published by the end of the week.

Mr Varadkar was also asked about plans for an inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and he said the Government have to discuss what form it will take.

He said no decision has been made on the model of the inquiry but “ it is important that we have one that allows us to learn the lessons.

“Relative to other countries Ireland handled the pandemic well – I think everyone acknowledges that when you look at the numbers.

“But we didn’t get everything right either and I think it’s important that we have an inquiry that is not about blaming people or pointing the finger but is about working out what we did right, what we wrong and what we could do better so that we’re prepared if there is a resurgence in the virus or if there is a pandemic caused for a different reason.”

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Patrizia invests in logistics property near Milan (IT)

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Patrizia AG has acquired a newly built cold storage logistics asset near Milan, Italy, from Savills Investment Management. The 31,000m² cold storage asset was completed in Q2 2021 and is fully let to Kuhne & Nagel, a leading pan-European 3rd party logistics company, and Movi.Log Srl, a frozen food distributor, with a WALT of 7.5 years. The property has been built to a high specification with sprinklers, elevations and ample refrigeration space that has a temperature range between 4°C and -28 °C. Sustainability was a key consideration during its development. The asset includes two photovoltaic plants for a total power capacity of 2.5MW and is targeting a BREEAM rating.

 

The property is located in Casorate Primo, a municipality in Lombardy between the cities of Milan and Pavia, a prime industrial and logistics location in northern Italy. It benefits from excellent transport connectivity via the nearby A7 motorway which connects Milan with Genoa and enables access to France and Switzerland.

 

Pierluigi Scialanga, Head of Transactions at Patrizia Italy, commented: “The property is well located and has excellent sustainability credentials, while lettings to tenants with strong covenants will deliver long term reliable returns. Our Italian AUM has grown significantly in recent years to now over €1bn with plans to grow further. Logistics is a strategic sector for Patrizia Italy. We have so far invested €400m in logistics and have a pipeline of a further €160m of logistics transactions which we are completing.”

 

Rob Brook, Head of Alternative Investments and Head of Logistics at Patrizia, added: “Cold chain is an exciting area of logistics for Patrizia to be involved in. Demand is predicted to grow steadily in the next few years, especially due to a growing need for reliable supply chains for biopharmaceuticals, vaccines and clinical trials. High demand across Europe combined with low vacancy rates makes cold chain logistics an ideal growth area for the future.”

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Crackdown on second home and holiday let tax dodgers

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The Government is cracking down on second home owners who claim their properties are holiday lets for tax purposes.

Communities secretary Michael Gove is set to close a tax loophole which has allowed second home owners to avoid thousands of pounds per year in taxes, without proving that the property was ever rented out. 

The new rules will target those who register their holiday lets as small businesses, meaning they are eligible for business rates instead of council tax.

But the majority pay no business rates at all under the system, because they have ‘rateable values’ of under £12,000 based on the property’s rents, size and usage. 

Crackdown: Those registering second homes as businesses could fall foul of new rules

Crackdown: Those registering second homes as businesses could fall foul of new rules

A second home can be registered as a small business if it will be available as a holiday let for 140 days or more in the coming year.  

However, there is currently no requirement to provide evidence that a property has actually been let out, leaving the system open to abuse. 

This has caused anger in areas that have lots of second homes, such as Devon, Cornwall and the Lake District, as some locals believe property owners are not paying their fair share towards council services.

According to Ray Boulger of mortgage broker John Charcol: ‘Some 97 per cent of the 65,000 holiday let properties in England have rateable values of under £12,000, which means they qualify for small business rates relief and pay no rates at all.’

The new rules aim to change this by ensuring that only those properties which are actually rented out for 70 days per year, and available to rent for 140 days, get the tax break. 

Kurt Jansen, director of the Tourism Alliance said: ‘It makes a very important distinction between commercial self-catering businesses that provide revenue and employment for local communities, and holiday homes which lie vacant for most of the year.’

This is Money explains how the new system will work, and how second home and holiday let owners can make sure they are following the rules. 

Locals in UK holiday spots have expressed anger at second home owners, who they say are not contributing their fair share to the community and services via council tax payments

Locals in UK holiday spots have expressed anger at second home owners, who they say are not contributing their fair share to the community and services via council tax payments

What do the new rules say? 

The rules are based on the amount of days a property is rented out in each tax year. 

To qualify for business rates instead of council tax, the new legislation will require second home owners to prove their property will be available for ‘commercial short term, self-catering rentals’ for at least 140 days in the coming year. 

They will also need to prove that, in the previous year, it was available for letting for 140 days and actually rented out for at least 70 days. 

This is designed to prevent second home owners from registering their properties as small businesses, and then not actually renting them out.  

‘We will not stand by and allow people in privileged positions to abuse the system by unfairly claiming tax relief and leaving local people counting the cost,’ said Gove when he announced the policy. 

‘The action we are taking will create a fairer system, ensuring that second homeowners are contributing their share to the local services they benefit from.’

Anger among locals has increased since the start of the pandemic, as wealthy people snapped up UK holiday lets when travelling abroad was not allowed. 

Exempt: As they are assessed differently to bricks and mortar properties, caravans being used as holiday lets will not come under the government's new second home tax rules

Exempt: As they are assessed differently to bricks and mortar properties, caravans being used as holiday lets will not come under the government’s new second home tax rules

What counts as a holiday let?  

The business rates rules for holiday lets only apply to buildings, or self-contained parts of buildings, that would otherwise be assessed for council tax. 

Caravans will not generally be subject to the rules, as they are usually assessed for business rates under a different system to bricks and mortar buildings. 

When it comes to counting the days that a property was rented out, the government says that only days where the property was occupied at the end of the day should be included.

So if a property was let out from Friday evening to Sunday morning, it would have been let for two days for the purposes of meeting the holiday lets criteria.

Is this definitely going ahead, and when will the rules come into force?

The government has concluded its consultation on the new policy, which started before the pandemic in 2018. It plans to implement the changes from 1 April 2023. 

However, the legislation needed to do so has not yet been passed in parliament.

While the government has made clear its intention to enshrine the new rules in law, they are not set in stone just yet. 

How much would I pay under each system?

Small businesses can find their rateable value on the Government website. 

Those with a rateable value of below £12,000 are not eligible for business rates, while those with a value of up to £15,000 pay special tapered rates. 

For those with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, they will need to multiply that value by 49.9p to find out their rateable value. They can then subtract any discounts that they may be entitled to, which the government details here

Those with a rateable value of more than £51,000 will follow the same calculation, but with a higher multiple of 51.2p.  

As for council tax, second homes are charged at the same rate as main residences. 

Individual councils may decide to give a discount for second homes, or on homes that have been empty for two years. Owners should contact their council to find out if this is available.

Under the new rules, the government has said there will be no rate or council tax discount for those with lots of properties.  

What if I have a new holiday let with no proof of lettings for last year?

Those acquiring a new holiday let and wanting to register for business rates will not be able to prove that their property was available to let for 140 days and actually let for 70 days in the past year, as required by the new rules. 

Until the owner can provide that proof, they will be subject to council tax – meaning most will need to pay that for at least the first year of their ownership. 

After that, they can ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) for a business rates assessment. 

This is the government body that handles everything to do with business rates, and it will be responsible for policing the new rules once they come in to force. 

Don't lie low: Property owners who don't think their property meets the new letting rules, but who are paying business rates, are advised to inform the VOA as soon as possible

Don’t lie low: Property owners who don’t think their property meets the new letting rules, but who are paying business rates, are advised to inform the VOA as soon as possible

I don’t think my property will meet the criteria for last year. What should I do?

Some holiday let or second home owners will not be able to prove that their property was available to let for 140 days and actually let for 70 days in the past year. 

The government says people in this position ‘should notify the VOA as soon as possible, so that their property can be assessed as domestic and revert accordingly to (or be given) a council tax valuation.’ 

It adds that failure to do so could result in a large, backdated council tax bill.

How will it be policed?

When seeking a new business rates valuation after April 2023, second home owners will need to provide evidence that their property was let or available to let for the required periods.  

The government has said will communicate the exact method for collecting evidence before the new rules come into effect.

However, this is expected to include things like the property being listed on rental websites, and evidence of payments from guests.  

‘Evidence of lettings will be required, such as at least one website or brochure used to advertise the property and letting details and receipts,’ says Boulger. 

Those already paying business rates on their holiday let or second home, and who meet the letting requirements, do not need to submit anything. 

However, they should ensure that they have evidence of the last year’s lettings by April 2023, as the VOA may ask for them at any time. 

‘The only impact the new rules will have on genuine holiday let properties might be the need to provide the evidence outlined above, but this information should be readily available for the owner’s tax return,’ says Boulger. 

What if the property is used by family and friends?

Those who regularly allow family and friends to use their properties for free could find they are no longer eligible to register as a small business under the new rules. 

The government says lettings counted in the 70-day period must be on a ‘commercial basis’ at ‘market rates’ and that ‘lettings to friends or relatives at zero or nominal rents will not be covered.’ 

No more mates rates? Money will need to change hands when the property is let, or it will not be counted as a holiday letting under the government's new 70-day rule

No more mates rates? Money will need to change hands when the property is let, or it will not be counted as a holiday letting under the government’s new 70-day rule

Of course, if there are 70 days of commercial lettings on top of discounted ones to friends and family, this will not be a problem.  

Boulger says owners should still be able to rent to people they know at a small discount as part of the 70 days, for example if they are deducting the fees that a listings website would normally charge for a letting via their platform. 

‘It should not prevent the owner offering a reasonable discount to family on friends if, for example, they can avoid the normal commission otherwise payable to the sites advertising their property,’ he says.    

What are the rules outside of England?

Wales has already had similar rules for holiday lets in place since 2010, and the new legislation will bring England in line with those.

The Scottish government is also set to introduce a requirement that holiday lets are rented for 70 days and available for 140 days in a given year, following a consultation called the Barclay Review. 

These rules are set to come into force from 1 April 2022. 

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