Protest planned after council’s second homes tax U-turn
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
A protest against Conwy County Council’s decision not to raise the premium on council tax for second home owners will take place on Saturday in Conwy.
The picket line has been organised by Welsh culture campaigners Cymdeithas yr Iath who will meet at 11 am on Lancaster Square.
The protest follows Conwy’s cabinet voting to revoke an earlier decision to charge second home owners a 50% council tax premium.
Instead, second home owners will now pay a 25% premium from April 2022, as they have done for the past three years.
Conwy feared sticking with their previous decision could see the local authority lose council tax if second home owners converted properties to holiday homes – whose business rates are instead picked up by the government.
But the decision has angered many who point to neighbouring Gwynedd charging second home owners a 100% premium to stop local people being out priced in the housing market.
Cllr Aaron Wynne says the issue affects locals in his Llanrwst constituency as well as young people across Conwy.
Cllr Wynne said: “I’m supporting the protesters in Conwy this weekend. Second homes and long-term empty properties are an issue in our communities, and Conwy has the ability to take small but positive action to alleviate their effects.
“Young people like me are finding it more and more impossible to get onto the housing ladder – or simply afford to rent – in our own communities.
“I echo the calls of the protesters – Conwy should increase the council tax premium on second homes and long-term empty properties so that young people have a fighting chance of being able to remain living and working locally.”
Conwy also decided that owners of long-term empty homes will pay a 50% premium from next April.
The cabinet also voted for the option to increase the premium to 50% on second homes from 1 April 2023 if they wish.