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Council of Europe warns of second homes threat to the future of the Welsh language

25 May 2023 3 minute read
Protest against second homes in Nefyn. Photo LDRS

Luke James

Europe’s human rights watchdog has warned second homes threaten the future of the Welsh language and backed government action to tackle the issue.

In a report on national minorities in the UK, the Council of Europe said: “In Cornwall, Wales and Scotland, the pricing out of locals from tourist hotspots through the purchase of second or holiday homes is concerning and threatens the vitality of language communities there.

“There is also a need to ensure economic support for those regions, particularly more remote areas, where minorities live traditionally in substantial numbers.”

Around 10% of all homes in Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire and Ynys Môn are used as second residences. But that rises to as much as 60% in the most popular tourist hot spots.

The Council of Europe, which is based in Strasbourg and is not an EU institution, added that “communities of language users are an irreplaceable condition for the protection and promotion of minority cultures and identities.”

It called on the UK authorities to “collaborate with devolved administrations to tackle this problem in areas of concern.”

Language experts

The opinion of the Council’s language experts comes after the Welsh Government raised the council tax premium from 100% to 300% as part of its cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru.

A licensing scheme for providers of holiday accommodation is also under consultation.

The Council expressed particular concern that, unlike in Wales, Cornwall does not have the necessary powers needed to limit the number of second homes.

“Cornish representatives have stated that this situation prevents them from meaningfully promoting and protecting their culture, since Cornish people are being effectively forced out of the area or being declared homeless,” their report said.

The report was produced by experts from across Europe as part of the monitoring of the UK’s obligations under the Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which is legally binding and was ratified by the UK in 1998.

On their fact finding mission to the UK, the Council’s experts also found “troublingly persistent levels of anti-gypsyism” as well as “racial and ethnic bullying in schools.”

The Council’s report recognised the Welsh Government’s efforts to improve diversity in teaching through its Race Equality Action Plan but noted concerns “about its implementation – including the lack of mandatory teaching of diverse perspectives on history and the lack of diversity in teaching and other educational staff, including on governing boards.”


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Riki
Riki
9 months ago

Well duh! Hasn’t the last 100 years been a warning to anyone? This is what happens when you let a people who want your nation and its history gone the freedom to settle in it. While other nations puts checks in place to weed out those who have contempt for it.

Susan Todd
Susan Todd
8 months ago
Reply to  Riki

Why on earth would you think that? Wales is celebrated for what it is by the English, and its people. A beautiful part of the UK. Nothing else. Nothing stopping Welsh people going to buy a second home in the Cotswolds or in Yorkshire. Nobody there would say a dickybird about it.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
8 months ago
Reply to  Susan Todd

It was the UK who redrew from the European Union. That shut out the rights of Wales, Scotland and English people the rights to work, live, and travel freely over the whole of our continent.

Wales is a Country.
Scotland is a Country.
England is a Country.

Unfortunately, England dominates all 3 countries with its UK regime and there is no way for countries to insert their independence as there is no Clause 50.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago

Good news. About time this was recognized. Let’s hope our authorities now do something positive to address this problem.

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