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Senedd member blames Welsh medium education for second homes crisis

19 Mar 2021 3 minutes Read
Mark Reckless. Picture by the National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

A Member of the Senedd has blamed Welsh-medium education for the second homes crisis.

Mark Reckless MS, suggested, without evidence, that people who may want English medium only education for their children only had the option of moving away from Gwynedd and then be replaced by second home owners.

Reckless, who according to the register of interests co-owns two rented residential properties in Cardiff and in London, told the Senedd that he doesn’t “believe it’s right to scapegoat second home owners”.

The debate in the Senedd was titled ‘Give Local Authorities powers to control the housing market in rural and tourist areas of Wales’ and was about a petition submitted by Osian Jones on behalf of language campaigners Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, which has amassed 5,386 signatures.

But Mark Reckless, a member of the Abolish the Welsh Assembly party said that he believed it was “probably unrealistic” for local authorities to have controls over the housing market.

Plaid Cymru MS for Arfon Sian Gwenllian said that 60 per cent of local people are “priced out” of the housing market and suggested there is general consensus in the Senedd that reform to policy and finance legislation is required, as well as reform to planning laws.

She added: “In Gwynedd now, there are 7,000 second homes or holiday accommodation in the county—that’s 11 per cent of all stock.”

Cymdeithas yr Iaith have called for tax hikes on second homes, a cap on the number of them, as well as rent controls.

‘Party-hopping’ 

The party-hopping Senedd member Mark Reckless, who was at different times, a Tory, a member of UKIP, and a member of the Brexit Party, said: “In Gwynedd, there’s an education policy in terms of the Welsh language where there’s a 100 mainstream schools, and it says they’re all bilingual, but actually, when they say bilingual, that’s how they style it; elsewhere in Wales I think we would call those Welsh-medium schools.

“And if you’re in that area and there are a lot of Welsh language essential jobs elsewhere in Wales, then disproportionately people who are learning Welsh in those areas through that schooling, perhaps a higher number of those may move to take those Welsh-essential jobs elsewhere.

“Similarly, if you’ve got people who want English-medium education for their children, and are unable to get it in Gwynedd, they’ve got their main residence there and they learnt through English themselves, some of those people, then, move away, and no longer have a main residence there, and some of those homes again are taken up by second-home owners.

“Other people, who are moving in perhaps from an urban area elsewhere, over time, may be looking to move there permanently, but in some cases won’t move there permanently as a main residence until their children have finished school, because it is quite a hurdle for people to get over for their children to have to learn through the medium of Welsh.

“I wish the petitioners well, but I don’t believe it’s right to scapegoat second home owners, and I’m sceptical that the situations they’re worried about will be resolved by the policies proposed.”

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