Second homes protests strike a chord with local people
Hundreds of people have been protesting today against being forced out of their communities by second homes.
Locals in villages such as Pistyll, Morfa Nefyn, Edern, Tudweiliog, Sarn and Aberdaron in Pen Llyn, turned up to show their anger at the spiralling costs of trying to buy a home in their communities when they are beyond the reach of most people.
The problem has now reached a crisis point in many areas of Wales and there have been urgent calls on the Welsh Government to act now before it is too late.
Other similar protests were also held on Anglesey.
Nefyn Town Council chairman Rhys Tudur said: “The protest today has struck a chord with the local people in our communities.
“We’ve had many people in every village joining us – people who wouldn’t normally go out to protest.
“It just shows that this issue, this emergency is close to people’s hearts and is very worrying.”
Supporting @IHawl campaign in Pen Llŷn with @mabonapgwynfor and @cefincampbell to call on the Welsh government to act now to address the second homes crisis as young people are priced out of their own communities. #SecondHomes 🏡🏴 pic.twitter.com/qpfyUaQNTr
— Liz Saville Roberts AS/MP 🏴 (@LSRPlaid) May 29, 2021
Another of the organisers, Mared Llywelyn Williams, said: “We’ve had a good response generally, a lot of people sounding their horns and a lot of people reading and studying the placards as they passed.
“We had singers Gwilym Bowen Rhys and Elidyr Glyn also to raise our spirits with singing and representatives from each community saying a few words at each of the localities.
“Having such a protest was effective because it attracted people from every community. We were very pleased also to see a similar protest on Anglesey today as well.”
At Tudweiliog, local Plaid Cymru Cllr Simon Glyn said: “Today we are facing the most serious crisis in the history of our Welsh communities. If we do not act now there won’t be any Welsh communities left in less than a quarter of a century.
“It’s up to us. It’s so important. What Nefyn Town Council have done is to create a snowball which is gaining momentum and pressurising the Senedd to control the situation.”
‘Out of control’
The protesters were joined by Plaid Cymru Meirionnydd Nant Conwy MP Liz Saville Roberts together with the area’s Plaid Cymru MS Mabon ap Gwynfor and Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru MS for Mid and West Wales.
Earlier, Rhys Tudur said that the situation of second homes had worsened to the level that “local people do not have the fundamental right to live at home in their locality”.
Explaining the reason for taking action, he told BBC Radio Cymru: “We will start in Pistyll, where the village chapel was recently sold for £257,000 – well over the asking price of £120,00.
“The local residents had done a heroic campaign in raising £30,000 to buy the capel but the situation is just out of control . . . house prices are going through the roof.
“Not only will we be Pistyll, we will then move on to Morfa Nefyn, to Edern, to Tudweiliog and Sarn, before finishing in Aberdaron.
“Local people don’t have the basic right to live at home in their local community, our communities are rapidly dismantling, prices have spiralled out of control, and it’s very sad that you’re brought up in a community, feel love for it, and then the door shuts in your face because the prices get too expensive for you to be able to live in your local community.
“We’ve had several waves of second homes being bought, but this time it’s as if a tsunami has hit us – and it’s the end of our communities.”
The protesters under the Hawl I Fyw Adra (Right to Live Home) banner have been using slogans to try and get their message across to the Welsh Government, including: ‘A right to live locally’, ‘No more second homes’, ‘Your second home, our last chance’, ‘Empty houses kill communities’, ‘Your weekend getaway is forcing us to move away’ and ‘Holiday makers are welcome. Holiday homes are not’ among others.
The second-homes crisis have prompted poet and musician Twm Morys to tweet ‘A Modest Proposal’ originally written by acclaimed writer Jan Morris 10 years ago for to visitors to Wales. While welcoming them, she urges them “to think twice before thinking of buying a house here.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said that they “want everyone to be able to access high quality affordable housing, which is why we will be building 20,000 new low carbon homes across Wales during this term”.
“A large number of second homes in a local community can have a major impact on that community.
“Wales is the only country in the UK that gives local authorities the power to charge more council tax on long-term empty buildings and second homes.”
He added that they had also “increased the maximum level of Land Transaction Tax” and were considering what other options are available to them and how best to use the existing powers.