Last permanent residents of village where almost every house is second home call for action
One of the last permanent residents of a village where almost every house is a second summer home has called for action.
88-year-old Norman Thomas, the last Welsh speaker in Cwm-yr-Eglwys in Pembrokeshire, called on the Welsh Government to protect dying communities such as his.
Only two of the 50 houses in the village now have permanent residents – and those residents are in their 80s. The rest are holiday homes.
One house which did have a permanent resident is now for sale – for £1.3m.
Norman Thomas told BBC Radio Cymru this morning that the village is completely empty during the winter and there is no longer a pub or shop.
“It’s sad that young Welsh people can’t afford these houses,” he told Dros Frecwast.
“The Government is to blame, and they should do something to stop it, and give the locals a chance – they have no chance now. There is no work in Pembrokeshire for them.
“It’s too late for Cwm-yr-Eglwys, these houses have all been sold to English people. I have nothing against them – they bring work here.
“Every winter there is work going on on the houses, and people from the area who do it, and without it local people would suffer.”
The only other permanent residents are Elizabeth and Harry Broughton, who moved there from Lancashire 20 years ago.
But they told BBC Cymru Fyw that they welcomed the fact that the village is full of holiday homes, as their investment has grown in value beyond their hopes, they said.
“We’re sitting on gold here, there’s no doubt about that,” Mrs Broughton said.
The Welsh Government have agreed to look at what “further interventions are available” to them.
“Wales is the only nation in the United Kingdom to give local authorities powers to raise higher levels of council tax on long-term empty properties and second homes,” a Welsh Government spokesman said.
“The local authority decides and increases council tax premiums. We have also increased the higher rate of Land Transaction Tax, which applies when people buy additional properties.
“We are looking at what further interventions are available and how our partners can use existing powers.”
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Iagree with Norman Thomas’s
And our Welsh government is doing what exactly? Er….. Um……. Oh dear if we protect our young people from property hyperinflation caused by incomers they’ll be nasty and call us racists…. . Local Councils in English beauty spots have more b*lls.
The judgment of history on this cowardly and complacent Welsh government will not be kind. Anywhere else in our continent would cherish and protect our communities and cultural heritage. Shame on them.
Not if they’d died or had been admitted to a care/ nursing home!
If that was the case, then their families would take ownership of their homes (unless they left them to someone else in a will, or had no family). So I suppose we can blame their families, then!
Many of these homes were probably not sold for a fortune, but for a more modest sum years ago. The astronomical prices they now fetch are due to incremental increases as mere investment commodities from one property collector to another.
Whilst I agree that those who seek to maintain their communities and ways of life should look to themselves rather than to government, cwm-yr-eglwysnis now a resort. stories like this serve as a cautionary tale – remain in a union with a bigger, richer, culturally distinct nation and we’ll be subject to such predations. Rhyddid nawr, rhannu nawr.
It’s such a shame that these local communities, with local values and traditions are dying out due to people from other areas with lots of money buying up the properties for resale or holiday homes. Sadly in this silly PC society we live in people cannot express this opinion due to being called a racist or Facist. Thankfully Wales still has some freedom of speech which, sadly, England has lost.
I agree with the sentiment of your comment, but these communities are not dying out, they are being murdered. The reasons behind why this is happening are varied, but fundamentally it is the lack of a stable, broad-based economy providing decent jobs that offers opportunities for younger local people so that they can stay in their home area and thrive. The Welsh Government needs to seriously address this, and ensure that there is a broad-based approach to developing the economy so that it produces the jobs needed as well as introducing housing policies that are favourable to those who have… Read more »
Heated discussion on the crisis, on both Radio Cymru and Radio Wales this morning, with the majority — from all over Wales — calling for action by the WG. The Jersey Model was cited, as well as the option of putting a cap on the number of holiday homes per village (as in Switzerland) and the legal requirement for holiday home owners to learn Welsh (Switzerland again, re. its four official languages). It was also pointed out that raising Council Tax and LVT will not deter wealthy outsiders from snapping up Welsh properties. One holiday home owner tried to play… Read more »
For a much more radical solution, how about redefining “property”? Your ownership of the shirt on your back is determined by your occupancy of it (since most people don’t keep receipts for their shirts) and by the lack of CCTV footage of you stealing it. You might have receipts for a few high value items, but for most of your chattels, the only proof of your claim to them is the fact that they’re in your custody at the moment. When you say “This shirt is mine”, you’re really saying “I am the de facto custodian of this shirt”; but… Read more »
The holiday home owners make a fortune every year through subletting. Welsh communities are being turned into commodities. But we have known this for over a generation. Now our only hope, is for some of the truly wealthier members of the Welsh community to buy out these 2nd home owners, and put the houses into trust for future Welsh generations, in order for us to take these communities back. To be fair the dye was cast long before the Welsh govt existed.
It’s not helped by the fact that there could so easily have been a fund created to achieve what you suggest, though it should have been a fund spearheaded by the Welsh Government and local authorities, though I suspect that compulsory purchase powers would be required for such a scheme to work otherwise the existence of such a fund could actually be inflationary. But there are some anomalies in the housing market in Wales. Recently more or less the whole village of Aberllefenni was sold for £1.15 million after having been on the market for over two years, and had… Read more »
Another shining example going back many generations was Sir Henry Hadyn Jones MP for Meirioneth who bought Abergynolwyn when the slate died. He kept the Talyllyn Railway going for the community until LTC Rolt took it over.
What about the Cardiffians who can’t afford properties in working class communities districts like Grangetown because they have become gentrified by well-off Welsh-speakers?
God forbid anyone should speak Welsh in, er, Wales.
Vaughan – That is a fair criticism up to a point . However the gentrification of Grange and other parts of old working class Cardiff is driven by far more than a few Welsh yuppies down from the hills and valleys. The over concentration of administrative “business” in the city has caused a shift in its demographic and will continue to do so if the local authority’s preferences along with the Bay Senedd are anything to go by.
Remember Vaughan that the Welshies move to Caerdydd because they can’t afford to buy at home due to prices being higher than Cardiff in the West and that there are no jobs to actually afford to pay for it! This has meant that Welsh people are a minority in Ceredigion Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire by now let alone Welsh speakers!
Where is your evidence Charles? The vast majority of non-Welsh-speaking Welsh people are very supportive of Cymraeg and it’s survival as a living language. Their desire to learn or not is largely driven by practicalities: if there is nowhere to speak a language, then why learn it?
Most parents in Cardiff are fully behind campaigns to establish Welsh-medium schools in the city.
Someone give Mr Thomas an OBE for speaking up, he must be breaking his heart. Come on WG, we must do better than this. Putting up taxes just makes these places more exclusive, and where does the money go? Not obviously ploughed back into the communities. If houses are built as Gwynedd claims, it just means that ‘locals’ and ‘Welsh speakers’ are ghettoised into ‘affordable housing’. Why is WG not taking action over the developers who flout s.106 restrictions. Why is it so difficult to get data from our council tax registers on % of second homes, village by village?… Read more »
Cwm-yr-Eglwys is right by Dinas Farm, one of Ronald Lockley’s wartime farms. After founding the Pembrokeshire National Park with Julian Huxley, he eventually despaired. When the oil people moved into Milford Haven, he left for New Zealand. History about to repeat itself down there with Freeport status about to be handed out in Wales.
This is why it’s important to resist and to establish a culture of resistance that makes it difficult or uncomfortable to walk over us. No-one should be made to feel that they have to go beyond their own personal boundaries, and passive resistance, such as peaceful protest on a mass scale is a good place to start, but even talking to friends, family and acquaintances to persuade them is a huge contribution.
Are you involved or a member of YesCymru? Independence would be one way of making the fundamental changes needed.
I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment, but an OBE? Isn’t the British bit rather the problem here? Maybe we, the citizens of Cymru should establish our own set of honours to recognise the contributions of those we hold in high esteem?
Seconded. I’ve been thinking that thought for a few years now.
WG do nothing, because they don’t want to. .
Funny about Lockley, an old neighbour of mine in Wrecsam was Alexander Cordell, and I
didn’t even know, until they found him passed away in the hills, God bless his soul.
They put it in the ‘Wrexham Leader’ when he joined Plaid Cymru and declared his support for an independent Wales.
Charles your comment suggests that you live in some kind of bubble. Many of these places come for sale at the time an estate is being disposed of after a death. Chances are that the offspring have already been driven out of those areas due to lack of work opportunities so hanging onto a property just to visit a few times annually is not an option. Go back less than 10 years and you could wait a year or more to sell off a remote home, now they go within 10 days or less often for more than the asking… Read more »
I doubt that your highly over-engineered scenario is true for most of the houses in e.g. Cwm-yr-Eglwys, but even if it was: the families who have been “driven out” can choose who they sell to. If they care so much about preserving the community, they should sell within the community, even if it means for less money than an outsider can offer. Lots of commenters on here seem desperate to place all the blame on some mythical, dastardly, super-wealthy “foreigner”, rather than the people who have actual control over the community. And by the way, it’s pretty insulting that you… Read more »
But think of all that lovely multiple of council tax that’s being raked in to build all those ‘affordable’ homes for the young of Wales.
Unless politicians act soon and in a meaningful manner to stop the ethnic extinction, then militancy will guide them towards the correct moral conclusion
One thing the EU was good at was protecting ethnic and linguistic minorities, no hope now unless the old dream of a Celtic Federation takes shape quickly.
I agree, there are young Welsh people who cannot afford a new home due to the prices on houses. But for a whole village to be owned by people not from Wales, save one or two people, and it not being their primary residence is completely outrageous.
Trouble is the story is just not true. There are 9 permanent residents in Cwm yr Eglwys and only 27 houses. This has been a predominantly second home community for 100 years with houses staying in the same families for generations. Only 5 homes have come up for sale this century. The most recent sale was £520k; £1.3 m is just made up. I know this because I am a Cwm resident and I shouldn’t have to justify my existence but I am Welsh, I live here full time, my parents lived here in the same house before me, and… Read more »