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Burning of second homes to restart in Wales?

The burning of second homes in Wales could return if the British government proceeds with its plan to offer tax relief on second homes. This is the stark warning given by the Welsh-language pressure group Cymuned (Community). The plan was published in the British Chancellor's pre-budget statement in December and

Jacques-Yves Le Touze pour Eurolang le 28/02/04 22:09

The burning of second homes in Wales could return if the British government proceeds with its plan to offer tax relief on second homes. This is the stark warning given by the Welsh-language pressure group Cymuned (Community).

The plan was published in the British Chancellor's pre-budget statement in December and is out to consultation until 5 March. But according to Aran Jones, chief executive of Cymuned, the government has not considered what effect this would have on housing in rural areas, which is already in crisis.

Mr Jones says that he already senses a feeling a frustration amongst language activists. In the 1980s a group calling themselves Meibion Glyndwr (The Sons of Glyndwr, a Welsh prince who led a revolt against the English in the 1400s) burnt over a hundred holiday homes, all in Welsh-speaking areas. Only one member was caught, although it is considered that he was not amongst the leaders.

"Giving tax relief to the buyers of second homes would add to the existing problem of people who cannot afford to buy homes in their own communities," says Aran Jones. "Cottage burning of the kind that took place in the Meibion Glyndwr campaign is the kind of extremism we’re trying to stop. But if this proposal is included in the Budget, there is a danger that this kind of activity will return." Mr Jones added that Cymuned had acted as a pressure valve up to now, but if the proposal goes through this might not be true for much longer. He added that the Labour Government in London was pandering to the affluent middle classes in England whilst disregarding what effect this would have on areas like Wales.

Caernarfon Member of Parliament Hywel Williams has written to every politician and local authority in Wales calling on them to oppose the proposal. He has also raised the matter with a Wales Office Minister who replied that no assessment had been done on the measure’s impact on housing in Wales.

If the tax relief proposal is accepted, then the situation in Wales may well be exacerbated leading to further frustration in the Welsh-language communities with some individuals taking the law into their own hands. (Eurolang)

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