Welsh Government ‘obsessed’ by targeting second homes owners says Conservative Senedd Member
A Welsh Conservative Senedd Member has accused the Welsh Government of being “obsessed” with second homes rather than taking different measures to ease the housing crisis in Wales.
She was responding after the leader of Gwynedd council, Dyfrig ap Siencyn, said that “not much has happened” regarding a Welsh Government pilot scheme in his county and that it “lacked clarity and leadership”.
His comments came after Welsh Government ministers had said that the pilot scheme in Dwyfor, on the Llŷn Peninsula, would “inject fairness back into the housing system”.
Janet Finch-Saunders, the Conservative Shadow Minister for Climate Change, called for the Welsh Government to review its approach to tackling the housing crisis facing many communities across Wales.
The Senedd Member’s most recent register of interests shows that she jointly owned seven properties, including a residential/holiday-let property in Menai Bridge with her daughter.
However, she called for the “socialists and nationalists” in Labour and Plaid Cymru to focus on housebuilding and the right to buy instead of second homes.
“Industry data suggests that Wales needs to build 12,000 homes a year by 2031 but before the pandemic we saw that the Welsh Government could barely manage half of that,” Janet Finch-Saunders said.
“Shockingly in 2018-19, we saw the number of properties completed fall to 30.6% below levels seen prior to devolution.
“This failure to deliver on new homes is compounded by the reality that the Welsh Government refuses to listen to the common-sense policy solutions that I have put forward, including the re-introduction of the Right-to-Buy scheme and amendments to planning policy.
“Instead, the Welsh Government has become obsessed with targeting second homeowners and legitimate holiday let businesses.
“However, it is clear that even in this the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru are failing, once again announcing a new scheme without having thought it through. It is totally shocking that six months into this scheme Gwynedd’s Council Leader remains unsure as to what the Welsh Government are even piloting.”
The issue of second homes has become a contentious one in recent years with many coastal communities calling for more powers to be able to reduce the amount of second homeowners in their areas.
This led to the Welsh Government establishing a pilot area in Dwyfor, Gwynedd, with the Climate Change Minister Julie James keen to look at several approaches to address the issue.
But Dyfrig ap Siencyn told Radio Cymru the council had been left in the dark about what the pilot scheme involved.
“We aren’t sure what it’s trying to achieve, officials have been appointed by the government – we haven’t been a part of that, so we’re asking the question,” he said.
“I’m genuinely concerned that we’re not very clear on what exactly is being piloted and agree with the report which says that the government needs to report back on this soon to tell us exactly what they are trying to do, define clearly what they are trying to do, and how they are going to evaluate that.”
The Welsh Government said they had offered to meet with the council to discuss any issues.
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