Welsh language activists have criticised the lack of response from government to a petition of over 5,000 signatures calling for action on the issue of second homes in Wales.
The 5,386 signature petition called on the Welsh Government to give councils the power to control the number of second homes in their areas.
In November, the Housing and Local Government Minister, Julie James, responded saying that she would “make a statement in January” after consulting with her fellow minister and Senedd members.
Welsh language pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith have now written her a letter asking when that statement will come, as there is no indication of any upcoming statement in Senedd business.
“We are already in the second half of January, and we cannot see any reference in Senedd business for the next two weeks to a statement by the Minister,” Cymdeithas yr Iaith Chair Mabli Siriol said.
“But there are urgent steps that can be taken immediately, and we cannot afford to continue losing our housing stock and depriving families of homes in our communities. We are awaiting a date for the promised statement.
“We call on the Welsh Government to do the right thing and take urgent action for the benefit of our communities.”
‘Not for sale’
The original petition said: “In a number of rural and tourist areas, a large proportion of local inhabitants are deprived of homes as house prices have been inflated by demand for second homes and holiday homes.
“The First Minister could direct the relevant Ministers to engage in urgent discussions with Local Authorities to draw up a strategy to ensure community control of the housing market mainly through amendments to the planning system.”
Cymdeithas yr Iaith are also planning a rally on the Tryweryn dam in order to call for local authorities to be given the power to control the housing market in rural areas.
The ‘Wales is not for sale’ rally will be held in May along the Tryweryn dam near Bala where Capel Celyn’s Welsh rural community was drowned 55 years ago.
Some of the steps that Cymdeithas expects the Welsh Government to take include:
- Varying the Land Transaction Act scales so that houses are more expensive to buy as second homes or for commercial use
- Raising the council tax premium on holiday homes and closing the gap to prevent tax evasion
- Instructing Local Authorities to identify areas of high housing market pressure – accepting that compulsory purchase powers will be required by legislation in these areas. It should be part of the process of creating the new Local Development Plans.
They said that that the solutions to this problem had been known for decades, but government after government had shown a lack of will to act.