Tuesday, December 7

‘It’s a bank transfer cultural genocide’: Welsh speakers campaign against second homes | Welsh

The Pembrokeshire village of Llandudoch, or St Dogmaels, sits picturesquely on the banks of a gentle bend in the River Teifi and features a ruined abbey, cozy pubs and good fishing spots.

But 16-year-old Minna Elster Jones has no time for her postcard look. “I wish this place wasn’t as pretty as it is, so installable,” he said. “This is my home and the home of my ancestors. But I feel that the place – and our language – is being lost, it is being taken from us. We are being exploited. “

Minna is furious that the town’s pleasant appearance means that many of the town’s houses are now havens for wealthy outsiders, vacation homes, or Airbnbs. “Unless you win the lottery, you wouldn’t have a chance to shop here. My culture, my ethnicity, my language are at risk. “

The sensitive issue of second or holiday homes and the impact they have on Welsh language and culture is high on the political agenda in Wales.

More than 1,000 Welsh language activists protested in the Senedd, the Welsh parliament, in Cardiff over the weekend. TO petition arguing that people being excluded from their local communities contravenes the Welsh masterpiece Future Generations Welfare Law has collected more than 5,000 signatures.

On Wednesday, the Senedd housing committee began collecting evidence for an investigation into second homes and the Welsh government is about to announce the details of its plans to address what it accepts is a “crisis”, including an action plan to counteract the impact on language. Figures released by the Welsh government this week found that there had been a 45% increase in second homes in Pembrokeshire from 2017-18.

Terwyn Tomos
Terwyn Tomos: ‘You can feel the community change around you.’ Photograph: Phil Rees / Athena Pictures

That means places like Llandudoch are on the front line. Signs are popping up on residents’ gates and fences saying ‘second homes kill communities’, and membership in the campaign for an independent Wales, YesCymru, is growing.

“You can feel the community change around you,” said Terwyn Tomos, retired principal of the town’s school. At the time of the 2001 census, half of the inhabitants spoke Welsh, but by 2011 had decreased to 44%. Tomos said he wouldn’t be surprised if it was 40% or less now. A cruel irony is that there is great interest in learning Welsh, but communities where it is spoken the most, like Llandudoch, are being ripped apart. Tomos laments the struggle of culturally important groups, such as the Welsh-language theater society, which had to move to find an audience. “A lot of people are worried,” he said.

Jared and Michelle Brock, who have a newborn baby, have been served an eviction notice. The owner wants to sell his two-bedroom house in Llandudoch for the bulk of £ 250,000 or rent it out as Airbnb. “There is no place to rent within a 30 minute drive,” Jared said.

Jared and Michelle Brock with their newborn baby have been served an eviction notice.
Jared and Michelle Brock have been served an eviction notice. Photograph: Phil Rees / Athena Pictures

He noted that there are about 4,000 people on the waiting list for social housing in Pembrokeshire, almost exactly the same number of second homes. “We have to do something.”

Ffred Ffransis, prominent member of the lobby Welsh Language Society (the Welsh Language Society), said the problem was being accelerated by the “flying” of cities caused by Covid, while Brexit was driving people who might have bought second homes in France or Spain to opt for Wales.

Ffransis said: “All of these trends have wiped out the local housing market in many areas and we are witnessing population shifts at a level that has probably never been seen anywhere in peacetime. There is mounting evidence that there will be no Welsh-speaking community left within a decade. It is a cultural genocide by bank transfer ”.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith wants the Welsh government to give local authorities more control over the housing market, such as the power to establish stricter planning rules that make it difficult for houses and apartments to become second homes and the ability to establish a limit on housing. number of them.

Minna’s mother, Helen Elster Jones, said it bothered her to walk down Main Street and hear a lot more English than Welsh. “It’s painful. I don’t want to get mad at new people, I’m not a dragon hogging Wales, but it hurts.”


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