‘Seasonal properties’

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

The coronavirus lockdown has confirmed some things that we already knew, such as the fact that many of our politicians, both in London and Cardiff, are incompetent dissemblers. Which leads me to hope that many of them pay the price when we next have a chance to vote.

Though less well known was the fact that there seems to be no legislation stopping some oaf stacking up his supermarket trolley with toilet rolls; with Mrs Oaf following behind, her trolley containing enough pasta to feed a small Italian town for a month.

And why is there apparently no law against a retailer profiteering in a crisis by charging £20 for a pack of twelve toilet rolls?

RECAP: ACTION AND REACTION

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced lockdown on Monday 23 March and the problems for Wales began on the first weekend following that announcement. The examples in the panel below come from different parts of the country but the picture was very similar everywhere.

It was a case of fearful locals responding to ignorant and inconsiderate holiday home owners and tourists.

Some of the attitudes on display from those who felt they had a God-given right to come to Wales and do as they like, and some of the responses. Click to enlarge.

Though there was an improvement the following weekend, and the Easter weekend that followed that.

In part due to more of our neighbours belatedly accepting that a ‘stay at home’ directive had been issued, and obeying it. But also attributable to an increased police presence on major roads, coupled with car parks and tourist attractions being closed off, and other measures to deter people from travelling into Wales or else turning them back when they’d arrived.

Even so, the selfish, the inconsiderate, and the downright arrogant, just kept coming. And now, just before Easter, they were getting imaginative about it. For as WalesOnline reported, holiday home owners were sending their luggage by courier and driving down in empty cars in case they were stopped by police.

A ploy made easier by a number of holiday home owners claiming their second home as their main residence. Thus escaping the council tax surcharge on holiday homes and even registering their car(s) from the holiday home in order to get cheaper car insurance.

(Someone also tried to explain to me that there’s some Capital Gains Tax advantage . . . but I think I fell asleep. Zzzzzzzzz.)

Below you’ll see the original Facebook post that alerted us to the scam and is quoted in the WalesOnline article I’ve just linked to. I know Wyn Humphreys, he had a garage and repair shop in Aberdyfi for many years, he knows the community well. He’s now based in Tywyn and has car parts delivered by courier every day, so he knows the drivers.

Click to enlarge

The greater imagination and evasiveness employed by holiday home owners was mirrored by an increased hardening of attitudes on the part of the locals. Brilliantly shown in this short video from Julian Lewis Jones.

Julian is an actor, I understand, but I’ll forgive him that, and if I ever bump into him when this is all over I’ll buy him a pint. Or whatever actors drink.

Desperate for news of any kind the media contributed to the rising anger by reporting on acts of idiocy. With the information often provided by the police.

Click to enlarge

There was an increasing polarisation between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ that I found intriguing to observe. Not least because the ranks of the ‘Us’ contained some strange bed-fellows.

UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES

Clearly, coronavirus and the lockdown have made residents of rural areas focus on holiday or second homes in ways that few people could have predicted beforehand.

For we’ve experienced an upsurge in bad feeling that’s got stronger as the lockdown has progressed, to the point where the hostility directed against holiday homes is now as widespread and virulent as I ever remember it. (And believe me, I go back a bit!)

Some reading this will dismiss concern over holiday homes as a ‘nationalist thing’, but it’s not. I know people – of the BritNat persuasion – who have been out on patrol, searching for and then reporting occupied holiday homes. I put it down to the ‘Spirit of the Blitz’ – like a WWII ARP warden reporting someone whose windows weren’t completely blacked out.

A kind of Blitz without the Luftwaffe.

But whatever the explanation, if I had raised the subject of second homes with these corona-zealots a month ago, they would have defended holiday homes with the usual ill-thought responses, ‘good for the economy’, ‘locals don’t want them’, ‘that’s just anti-English’, blah, blah, blah.

But in recent weeks – and I have seen it myself! – English people living locally have been out ‘harassing’ (as one holiday home owner put it) English second home owners. This has taken some getting used to.

We can see and hear it in the video below from WalesOnline. Because the people staying in the Airbnb property are not being harangued by someone native to Penmachno.

The property is owned by a woman who lives in France, and her explanation for renting it soon starts to unravel.

Of course it’s a health issue for those I’m talking about. And when lockdown is over feelings will subside . . . but things will never be the same as they were before. The animosity towards holiday homes generated by so many of them being owned by selfish and arrogant bastards will never disappear entirely.

It’s almost inevitable that viewing holiday homes in a new light has spilled over into a more guarded attitude towards tourism generally. Again, a response to selfish and irresponsible behaviour, this time on the part of many thousands of people who seem to think that Wales has no existence other than as a holiday destination.

CHANGING THE NARRATIVE

You’ll see that this post is entitled ‘Seasonal properties’, a term that may be new to you, as it was to me when I read it on the NorthWalesLive (Daily Post) website, and used by North Wales Police.

It also appeared as an item in the BBC Wales coronavirus rolling news (below).

Click to enlarge

The story is that a person or persons unknown painted ‘Go home’ on holiday homes near Pwllheli marina, not far from the town centre. I know the area myself, I walk there when the wife fancies a day out in Pwllheli. There are eight ‘townhouses’ known as ‘Marina View’, let out as self-catering units.

Embarrassed by the attention, the owner of one or more of the properties defended himself by claiming that the properties were “available” for key workers.

GogPlod took up the theme and embellished it with the strange statement you’ve read in the image above. Let’s look at it again, paragraph by paragraph.

“The owners of the properties and the key workers are making a significant sacrifice to contribute to the collective response to the coronavirus outbreak.”

But there’s nobody staying in those properties. And if key workers were staying in them, then the owner(s) – rather than having empty properties earning nothing – would be having an income. How would that be a ‘sacrifice’?

“From our patrols we can say that the vast majority of seasonal properties are not occupied by tourists and have been given up to local people.”

Where the hell were these ‘locals’ living before coronavirus hit? In caves? Under boulders? Down in the sewer systems? Everyone living in the north will know that’s more bollocks. Does the person who wrote it even know northern Wales?

“Now more than ever we cannot afford to divert our stretched emergency services away from the work of collectively tackling this pandemic.”

The emergency services may be stretched, but with that daubing we’re talking about half an hour’s work for a PCSO. If time is so precious why waste it on a propaganda exercise?

“Ask yourself how you would feel if returning to this after a long shift keeping the community safe.”

This is clever, it appeals to emotion over reason, but it’s just more bollocks. Because no key workers are staying in those 8 semi-detached, holiday let, ‘townhouses’.

I genuinely doubt if that statement was written by a police officer, unless it was one with certain political leanings who also had some knowledge of psychology and propaganda techniques.

A statement that so shamelessly over-eggs a very minor incident and misrepresents the truth can only damage the credibility of Heddlu Gogledd Cymru.

It is the kind of statement that might have been issued by a political commissar speaking in the name of an organisation back in the old USSR. For example: ‘The Basket-weavers Union of Kazakhstan condemns in the strongest possible terms the US Army’s incursion into Laos’.

Image courtesy of Merriam-Webster. Click to enlarge

In the West this work is usually referred to as psychological operations, but it fulfils a very similar role. In addition to MI5 and MI6 and the traditional intelligence units of the British army we have recently seen the emergence of the 77th Brigade to combat ‘cybernats’ and others perceived to be enemies of the state. Is the 77th Brigade now handling NWP’s press releases?

The comparison with commissars and psyops is valid because the statement issued by North Wales Police was political. It even introduced a newly-coined term with ‘seasonal properties’; suggesting someone, somewhere, had realised that ‘second homes’ and ‘holiday homes’ had pejorative connotations.

It’s the introduction of this term, and the way it’s been used in that bizarre statement that tells me those who watch over us are getting concerned about the increasingly hostile focus on holiday homes, and where it might lead.

The reporting of the Pwllheli graffiti was an attempt to take control of the narrative.

Others took up this change of tack, for now it was Welsh idiots causing the problems. And what about this nutter going by motorcycle from Swansea to Fishguard to take some photos. Bloody Welsh!

STORM CLOUDS RETURN

But then, just when it seemed that hostility towards ‘seasonal properties’ was abating, along came another hammer blow. One that might prove fatal to the ‘commissars’ hope of returning Wales to the resigned acceptance of holiday homes from the pre-coronavirus days.

For we learnt that those holiday home owners who had cheated our local authorities out of council tax – by claiming that their property was a small business – are in line for a windfall in the form of Covid-19 compensation, anything from £10,000 to £25,000. This news re-ignited the pissed-on embers.

The leaders of Gwynedd, Anglesey, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire councils have all called on their councils not to make the payments until checks have been made to sort the genuine small rural businesses from second home owners cheating the rest of us.

Though according to Councillor Elwyn Vaughan payments are already being made in Powys. But then, many of the rat-race escapees who run Powys council probably sympathise and identify with holiday home owners.

Though it was disappointing to read deputy council leader Aled Davies respond with, “These businesses, which include farm diversification projects, holiday chalets and second homes when let, make a valuable contribution to our tourism offer and our local economy”.

Listen, Aled, genuine small businesses like farm diversification projects will not lose out. But your knee-jerk reaction makes you sound as if you want to pay everyone, including the cheaters.

So, is that your position, Aled, to pay everyone – cheques without checks? If so, how does such an attitude protect the interests of the people of Powys?

Courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

But then, Aled’s a member of the Conservative and Unionist Party, so he might blindly defend holiday homes even if they were rented out to the biological warfare division of the People’s Liberation Army . . . and local authorities picked up the tab.

The Covid-19 compensation payouts will be another headache for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, already buckling and looking beaten by the pandemic itself. Yet it’s a problem they could have avoided years ago by closing the legal loophole that allows this chicanery.

But as we know, and as I’ve explained on this blog, the ‘Welsh Government’, and the civil servants that control it, hate almost everything about the Welsh countryside – except what is alien, intrusive, and damaging to Welsh identity.

Thirty and more years ago I recall politicians loftily insisting that they would never submit to the ‘terrorists’ of Meibion Glyndŵr. The implication being that if the arson campaign against second homes ceased then something might be done about the problem. (For no one denied they were a problem.)

Here we are, thirty years on, and nothing has been done; the problem is worse than ever. After two decades of devolved government, after 21 years of ‘Welsh solutions for Welsh problems’.

If anyone attacks a ‘seasonal property’ then the police should head straight to Cardiff Bay and arrest London’s management team; both those masquerading as the political leadership of Wales and the puppet-master civil servants.

For that’s where the blame will ultimately lie.

♦ end ♦





47 thoughts on “‘Seasonal properties’

  1. Llewellyn

    I don’t necessarily agree with everything you say but that piece was kind of spot on.

    I live near pwllheli, in say a second home central town, to the west of it. You know the one.

    I’m Welsh (from northern gwynedd) but some unusual things have been happening to me.

    I have an English accent as in my 20s I lived London way. I’ve had (‘tourists’) people giving me dirty stares or looking at me, thinking I was a fellow tourist. Their face when I turn around and speak welsh too them. Of course in winter they never see me and in summer I’m just in the mix. Others looking at me when they wash their car. They never see me as I’m usually in work when they are jet skiing. Kind of odd being treated as if I’m not local when I am, by people who arent local themselves.

    I’m very familiar with Aberdyfi, and probably one of the worst tourist towns in Britain. My great taid was a fisherman there. Theres some kind of competition with house prices In Aberdyfi, that’s not based on demand. Snobby town with no reason to be.

    Tywyn is much better. Has an arcade at least.

    1. Aberdyfi is going the same way as Abersoch, by the same method, and due to the same indifference from the political class.

  2. Glen

    I may be able to shed light on the identity of the ‘local’ people occupying the holiday lets at Pwllheli marina.

    I have retired neighbours who rent out their house for income and live 11 months of the year in a caravan they own at Trecco Bay, for the month of January when they have to vacate the site they decamp to Spain. There are many others on the site who do the same.

    When Trecco and all the other caravan parks in Wales were closed, and with their own house occupied they were forced to find alternative accommodation and are now renting a holiday flat in Porthcawl town.
    Presumably the same thing has happened all around the Welsh coast.

    Does GogPlod consider semi-permanent residents of caravan sites to be locals?

    1. I’m sure that is happening, but with smaller local populations and more holiday accommodation the example you give will be less common in the west and the north. Additionally, GogPlod went OTT by suggesting ‘key workers’ were staying there.

    2. Brychan

      What you have identified, Glen, is your neighbour using a static caravan in Trecco Bay as a council tax avoidance mechanism, the proceeds of which is used to fund their holiday in Spain.

      This mechanism is most commonly used along the North Wales coast, by ‘retirees’ from England. Caravan sites pay business rates (now abolished during Covid-19), which in levied on the pitch rental. They then pay a commercial fee for the empty of refuse skips on the site. Occupants do not contribute to the services provided by local authorities like schools, care homes, roads, etc. These ‘properties’ are not subject to council tax, as they are not registered as permanent residence, hence the 11 month rule.

      I suggest that after the Covid-19 pandemic is over, that the Welsh Government immediately legislates for any new annual occupancy contracts for caravan sites in Wales be reduced to 12 weeks rather than 11 months.

      The reason why this council tax avoidance loophole has been allowed to persist is because of the argument that current occupants of ‘statics’ will alternately purchase a bricks and mortar second home, putting further pressure on the local housing market. This is no longer so if they face a relatively new punitive council tax charge as a result.

      Also I suggest closing another loophole. To qualify primary residence in Wales the title holder must have an income tax registration, “C”. This would force the ‘Cheshire Set’ to pay all their taxes in Wales. The Welsh Government already has the power to fix the higher income tax bands, as is being used in Scotland.

  3. Dafis

    Today’s tweet column – designed to make my blood boil ? Fuckin’ hell ! A few refer to the article above – the second homes/holiday homes scandal, or should I call it an epidemic ? Then we have some well meaning ( I’m being kind) sort from C.I.H.Cymru showing us how far we can become detached from reality by suggesting that we can end the horrors of homelessness, just like that. Well we probably could but not while all these parasitic turd sector types are out there creating opportunities as fast as they can. Local shortage ?, ship them in mun !

    Cynulliad, or at least the nutter wing ( which is most of them) wants to let any old foreigner, newly arrived, passing through, or maybe just thinking of popping in, to cast a vote in our elections. Should provide a further impetus to the vote rigging industry but those well meaning wets in Plaid won’t get much out of it, especially when gays figure out how extreme religious nuts want to use high rise buildings in middle of Cardiff for one of their favourite sports.

    And finally Barry Welsh, bless him, making reference to that ace tax dodger Branson’s bleat that some of his businesses could go down the pan if he doesn’t get tax payer funded handouts. Now that man’s greed shows up the extent to which our recent governments have conspired with the seriously rich to suck loot out of the public purse and dump it into the coffers of these blood suckers who are already so wealthy they should be taxed not given handouts. String the bastard up but don’t let it be quick.

    1. I don’t know who that bloke is, but to suggest that homelessness can be ended so easily makes him ignorant of the reality; which is, that a hell of a lot of people DON’T WANT to end homelessness because they’re doing so well out of it.

      1. Brychan

        I assume all those ‘enlightened’ third sector organisations and some AMs who were objecting to the police using the outdated Vagrancy Act 1824 a few months ago, are now delighted. The police guidance has been changed. Officers now use the The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Wales) Regulations 2020, and no AM voted against.

  4. Penddu

    Jac – my only criticism of the article is that purpose built holiday homes are less of a problem (although we need to close the loopholes re buisness rate exemption), and we could tolerate a small number of these. But buying up existing homes for use as holiday homes should be stamped out completely. Parsitic bastards….

    1. I could probably agree to purpose-built holiday homes if the exiting stock was closed off for permanent habitation. Though the basis of my criticism of those Pwllheli properties was the absurd claim that they’d all been given over to key workers.

  5. Wynne

    The issue = failure to comply with previous testing targets set
    The solution = abandon future targets

    7 little words spring to mind [organise, brewery, not, a, could, piss-up, in]. Feel free to reorganise the words.

    1. Dafis

      If testing was so important then the effort should have been made with an operating plan based on expected numbers to be executed at a given number of locations. It seems that such detail was never considered and it was soon evident that there were serious difficulties in getting people to test stations and putting test stations in places convenient for the target work forces and demographic. Thus it ( the decision to quit targets) is well reasoned only in the sense that if you are overwhelmed the only answer is to beat a hasty retreat!. No doubt we’ll soon get some more debacles which might make this one pale into relative insignificance.

  6. R Lowe

    Slightly off topic. I noticed that good old big ears opened the field hospital buy the Taff yesterday. He was speaking from Clarence House. I thought he was in Balmoral. When did he travel and was it essntell?

    1. The WRU’s obsession with royalty continues – even by video link! I was thinking about it, and it occurred to me that if the worst is nearly over – as is being suggested – then that ‘field hospital’ may not even be required. And presumably that will apply to the others. How much have they cost?

    2. Dafis

      Big Ears travels without any restraint/constraint. Bit like an ability to morph between species but this fucker does it between places ! Gee’s got some ideas about the man’s genetic code that enables this kind of stunt. Be a good idea if he ( Big Ears) shared it out between us mere mortals but I fancy that whatever it is gets kept tight within the family.

    3. Wynne

      I suspect there is one set of rules for royals and another set for us lesser mortals. I wonder how Boris and partner are getting on at Chequers. Perhaps a return to duty when the graph has peaked or is that being unkind.

  7. Dafis

    I can understand that a family can reach a point where they conclude that there’s no further mileage in banging your heads against a brick wall.

    “As a family, we have come to realise that the inquiry process would be unlikely to give us the answers we seek. Neil Hudgell, the family’s solicitor, said: “While feeling a great sense of frustration that answers to some questions will never be found, I hope they can now find some sense of closure in calling a halt to proceedings.”

    As a nation we should be ashamed of ourselves letting this bunch of conniving cnuts get away with murder. Jones’ guilt stinks like nothing on earth and the lowlifes around him now perpetuate the cover up. Leave a rope handy. Maybe some of the cronies will muster enough sense of shame to use it.

    1. I am in no doubt that since Sargeant’s suicide pressure has been applied on the family ‘to think of the party’. And when young Jack stood for Labour, rather than as an independent, they had him in their trap.

    2. Wynne

      And was the announcement made at this time, during lock-down, in the hope of avoiding widespread media coverage.

    3. Stan

      I’ve said before on here, I’m just an old cynic. While I’d have loved to see Carwyn Jones and the unsavoury crew that supported him brought to book for how they dealt with Carl Sargeant, I think there’s more to this latest development than meets the eye. When the inquest into “the Sarge’s” death was underway, let’s not forget the bombshell that Jones was desperate to unleash on the Sargeant family in order to save his weaselly skin. BBC News (9 May 2019) reported it as follows:

      “Cathryn McGahey QC, representing Mr Jones, said: “The coroner has been unduly influenced by the completely understandable wish not to cause distress to the Sargeant family.
      “We say Bernie Attridge had highly relevant knowledge about what caused Mr Sargeant to take his own life. He was aware of matters preying on Mr Sargeant’s mind.
      “We have an exchange between two independent witnesses who know what they are talking about.”
      Ms McGahey said the inquest would be “incomplete” and “one-sided” if the text messages were not included, adding: “It is unknown, in my experience, for a coroner investigating a suicide not to look at the factors that caused that individual to take his own life.””
      In my opinion, Carwyn Jones would have no hesitation outside of the inquest in bringing this shit out into the open. The Attridge statement was allegedly that Sargeant had done something that could have resulted in a prison sentence for him. The decision to now drop the Assembly investigation serves the interests of both parties.

      Since the announcement that further investigations have been dropped, Neil McEvoy to his credit has offered to seek the truth of what went on, subject to the permission of the Sargeant family. I’d bet a bottle of my finest Scotch they don’t give it.

      1. Yes, I’d forgotten about Fat Bernie. Thanks for reminding us, Stan.

        The thing is though, they used to be bosom buddies, so why and when did they fall out? That they did fall out is obvious, and this might explain Bernie’s eagerness to contribute. Because Carl Sargeant wasn’t around to contradict him.

  8. David Smith

    Sort of off-topic but on the subject of Her Travesty’s Twattering Battalion of Loyal Keyboard Warriors, it’s interesting to note that the impression one gets on social media is that hardcore UJ-flying, GSTQ-singing, Rangers zealots are rife up there in North Britain. When I was up in Glasgow for a boozy weekend about 15 months ago I didn’t see an Apron flying anywhere, not a single one to my recollection, and I pounded out some miles up and down the streets and byways and called in at a hostelry or several along the way. Quite the disconnect I found.

  9. Anonymous

    An article by Levi Gruffudd in last Saturday’s Western Mail claims that he had heard from a police source that in a Pembrokeshire hospital 6 of their 15 ventilators were used to treat visitors to the area.

    1. Jonesy

      I would be circumspect about stories like this one as the number of Covid positive patients in west Wales hospitals are still very , very low and not all of them will require ventilators . If lockdown had not occured the above would probabluy be true!

      1. I hear what you’re saying, but Lefi is a businessman who was confident enough of what he’d been told to go into print with it. Telling me there is substance to the report. As for lockdown, we know holiday home owners are flouting it. I see it myself.

  10. Brychan

    From ‘seasonal properties’ we now have ‘seasonal ministers’.

    Prior to the Health Minister slagging off a fellow Labour of Islington colleague during a plenary of the Senedd, yesterday, we hear him state, “There is growing evidence that the coronavirus pandemic is having a greater and disproportionate impact people from BAME backgrounds.” – Vaughan Gething AM.

    He went on to say that deaths of black and ethnic minorities were 33% compared to being only 18% of the population in the UK. This is wrong.

    Firstly, BAME is only 14% of the UK population, it is 18% in England. Secondly, the statistic is, actually, 35% being BAME as the numbers admitted to intensive care, not deaths. Wales, which he is responsible for, has not published any specific statistic. There is an extrapolation as stated by the health minister in London who has assumed authority for the whole of the UK, which Gething is re-quoting.

    We know that Covid-19 is not racist. It is a virus.

    So unlike attributes such as inherited conditions which does have variance by ethnicity, there is no medical or scientific basis for BAME to be adversely affected. It must be social conditions, and a similar disproportion is evident in the US and France, but most notably not in Netherlands, Sweden or Germany, and of course, China, which by western definition is 99% BAME.

    We know that Covid-19 does not socially discriminate. It is a virus.

    Whether millionaire or pauper a person is just as likely to catch the disease. The suggestion is that a BAME person, due to social conditions, is more likely to suffer severe adverse effects. In other words, underlying other heath conditions evident prior to contracting the virus. If this is the point Gething was trying to make, then it explains the effect on BAME communities from 20 years of a Labour government in Wales.

    To address the question to Gething in language acceptable to Elin Jones AM.
    What the fuck, arsehole?

    1. Wynne

      Whatever next, a health minister uttering swear words to an assembly member [AM] for asking an awkward question. I thought that was the role of an AM, to hold ministers to account, or are they only required to ask easily answered questions. Nice to see Elin Jones [Plaid] promptly responding to avoid further embarrassment to a Labour minister.

  11. Tens of thousands of visitors to Cardigan will know of “Sadwrn Barlus”, the Barley Saturday parade held annually on the last Saturday in April through the streets of the town.

    It has been held since the 19th century by local farmers to mark the end of the Spring barley sowing season. This year, an extremely wet winter developed into a gloriously sunny, dry March/April , enabling farmers to get their crops into the rapidly drying ground.

    The highlight has always been the running of stallions, especially Welsh Cobs, up through the High Street. Vintage tractors , farm machinery and old cars are also part of the parade.

    However, because of this dreadful coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 parade, due to be held on Saturday 25th April, has had to be regrettably cancelled. Thousands of regulars will be extremely disappointed, I’m sure.

    Those visitors will have seen local baker ,the bowler-hatted Mr Martin Radley, proudly leading the parade through the streets. He had done so , with aplomb, for very many years.

    Tragically , Martin passed away very suddenly in March. He will be very sadly missed by all who knew him. He was also a very talented, comedic, lead performer with Opera Teifi at our Theatr Mwldan.

    Cardigan looks forward to welcoming all to the next Sadwrn Barlus in April 2021!
    Stay safe in the meantime !!

    Yours faithfully,
    Lyn Jenkins,
    Clyn-yr-ynys,
    Gwbert,
    Cardigan,
    Ceredigion.
    SA43 1PR

  12. Brychan

    Jac, you correctly identify in a tweet that the latest ‘tightening of rules’ as meaning that people can now be forced out of their second homes and told to leave. In reality, it would only apply if the occupant has not evaded by registering their second home as their primary address.

    There are a number of ‘features’ to evidence a primary address:

    (a) The address where a vehicle or driving licence is recorded at the DVLA. This is the only mechanism currently available to the police where a person is in transit. Some people with second homes have company cars and also some falsely register at the second home for reasons of cheaper car insurance, however, it would be easy to identify if a person has ‘switched their driving license for coronavirus’ as the effective date, item 4a, on a Trwydded Yrru.
    (b) The council tax status. A property currently subject to second home premium would automatically be subject to the new rule, as would a property registered as a business for avoidance thereof. Also, any person who claims discount such as student, single occupancy or monk, can only do so at a primary address. The secondary address cannot qualify discount.
    (c) The income tax status. A person is required to register with HMRC their primary address. If this is in Wales then their income tax code will be prefixed with ‘C’, and subject to Welsh income tax rates. Anyone without such an indicator, for example on latest payslip or P60 starting 2020 could be identified as in occupation of a second home.
    (d) Medical registration. NHS rules are quite clear that an individual can only be registered at a GP once, this is at the primary address. There are some anecdotal evidence that some second home owners have been attempting to ‘switch GP registration’ for the purpose of being coronagees. This is not, however, a item of evidence of primary residence, as medical records can only be ‘evidenced’ by court order and there may be genuine medical reasons for such registration, such as “key worker” for the duration. This works both ways. However, there should be no ‘new registrations’ other than ‘key workers’.
    (e) Property insurance. Most home insurance policies stipulate non-vacancy maximum of 30 days making the policy invalid. This is why many holiday homes have different insurance arrangements. This is easily be identified, and any change, such as an ‘effective date’ can be easily checked.
    (f) Memberships of professional bodies, and stuff like golf clubs, purchase receipt history, credit ratings, loyalty cards, etc.

    There is of course the risk of ‘unintended consequences’ of rushed legislation. For example, those of ‘key workers’ from Wales who currently ‘working away’ in England involving a second home there, which can also sometimes be digs or company property supplied by an employer. Another example, is EU nationals working in Wales. This, however, is only likely to create an anomaly of (d), and they would either have an ‘key employee exemption letter’ or a form of ‘works ID’ which can be checked, and is currently validated by police, in transit or in occupancy. If a suspect does not voluntarily evidence (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f) above, with suitable chronology, then they can be evicted.

    I wonder if GogPlod are going to update their ‘seasonal’ guidelines? The real answer, of course, is the ‘residency permit’ that applies in most other European countries.

    1. Coronavirus has served to expose loopholes and dodges with ‘seasonal properties’ that most people – including our politicians – were unaware of. As for this unexpected move by the ‘Welsh Government’, which has previously refused to do anything, I think we can attribute it to three factors.

      1/ The growing anger in rural areas towards holiday homes.

      2/ The recent open letter from a number of doctors arguing that people staying in second homes could mean the difference between areas and hospitals coping or being overwhelmed.

      3/ It’s an attempt by the ‘Welsh Government’ to be seen to be doing something different to England, and acting in the Welsh national interest.

      When this is all over the ‘Welsh Government’ needs to come up with a fresh strategy for second homes because the feelings generated will not subside entirely when the pandemic is over.

      1. Brychan

        Two examples of each.

        (1) Loopholes that have not closed.

        (a) The daughter, of occupation student, now resident in a holiday home in Gwynedd with one of the parents in a ‘household’ but finds exemption because of suddenly finding Saturday job as a ’key worker’ stacking shelves at Tesco. High infection risk.
        (b) A non-estranged couple, or estranged for purposes of occupation, where one is documented at the primary address and the other documented at the secondary address. This is a ‘high transmission risk’ situation as they are routinely coming into close contact between locations. High infection risk.

        (2) Targets for compliance.

        (a) The eco-communities who have ‘volunteers’ in residence, or permanent occupiers who in reality return to their substantial properties in England who, really operate an off-grid holiday home or ancillary business, often without planning permission or OPD exemptions.
        (b) Persons purposely ‘dossing the beaches for summer season’ and falsely claiming homelessness, when in reality they have pre-existing accommodation already provided elsewhere under Schedule 29 (ban on evictions) of the Coronavirus Act.

        (3) Unintended consequences.

        (a) The sons and daughters from Wales who are working jobs in London, usually renting, where parent or nain has died recently. Unable to occupy the family home they grew up in, although theirs by inheritance. Low infection risk.
        (b) The ‘genuine key worker’ who has periods of job related secondary accommodation, offshore, military, transport related or specialist skill that will be unable to return to what they consider ‘home’ or cannot take a contract for fear of loss of access. Low infection risk.

  13. Brychan

    There are obvious curbs on freedoms and liberty that become necessary at times of threat. The government takes such authority over us. The executive power in the Westminster House has outright democratic mandate to rule over England in such matters and the executive power in Holyrood has outright democratic mandate to rule over Scotland in such matters.

    However, in Wales, the executive power has no overall democratic mandate and is a coallesment of minority interests. The ‘emergency powers’ also provide for ability by decree of cancellation next years Senedd elections, should they see fit. A man with a moustache once used a ‘Declaration for the Protection of People’ legislation to cancel elections on the basis of ‘no plebiscite while the Bundestag burns’.

    Within the strengthening of ‘second home’ rules, which almost all agrees with, tucked away within the announcement of today there was also other restrictions. Those which has rather oblique clinical need, such as a limit of a bicycle journey to ten miles of ordinance, a ban of picnicking outdoors even if the gather is of the same household, and remaining away from home for long periods, whatever that means by purpose and duration.

    Whilst there is clear evidence of infection spread where an extended family resides across multiple homes (and there is also non-virus reasons this should stop) the care workers, NHS staff and the patients affected are not at threat from bicycles and sandwiches. There exposure is due to government failings with ventilators and PPE.

    I do not trust the Welsh Government.

    An answer to the ‘seasonal properties’ statement by GogPlod, as you have correctly identified, it is not of constabulary wording. It is also not a phrase used by Cumbria or Cornwall, so unlikely to have originated from the Home Office in London. I suspect it’s a placebo of phrase invented in Cardiff.

    1. Wherever the term ‘seasonal properties’ came from we can be sure it was motivated by a desire to ‘take the heat out of the situation’ by ignoring the more commonly employed – but loaded – terms, second homes and holiday homes.

  14. Dafis

    Your tweet column refers to a Daily Post report about a Pwllheli councillor, Elfed Gruffydd, being verbally abused by some criminal from other side of Clawdd Offa who regarded himself and his old tart as being in some way exempt from any rules relating to isolation and travel restrictions. Surely this is a matter that Heddlu GogPlod should be able to investigate and close off within a minimal time frame, or have they adopted a more tolerant, conciliatory and accommodating stance towards such travellers just cos they are from the other side of the Clawdd? If so shouldn’t they go public and disclose their flaccid limp wristed policy so the local communities clearly understand that their defences are down ?.

    1. Brychan

      I also saw that report, Dafis. I also formed the opinion that Cllr Elfed Gruffydd is either not routinely in touch with his local Community Policing Safety Team, or that GogPlod have not adjusted their operations to be more proactive as is evident in some divisions of the DPP force area.

      One of the most effective activities available to policing under lockdown is the ‘welfare concerns knockup’ particularly when resources such as special constables, who are exempt from furlough restriction, and PCSOs now readily available for redeployment from shoplifting shouts or teenagers in the park. If GogPlod are not knocking on doors of known holiday homes, then they are also not checking on the nain with no food in.

      Elfeds patch is not remote farmhouse land so the failure of GogPlod in the area is probably an indication of the density of holiday home properties to be policed. The question arises is how can north beach Tenby be empty while the High Street in Pwllheli is crawling with Brummies. What’s going on up there?

      A question for a plenary in the Senedd, but Elin Jones has banned questions.

      1. Anonymous

        Brychan in your earlier piece you say towards the end ……”so the failure of GogPlod in the area is probably an indication of the density of holiday home properties to be policed.”

        Do you mean “policed” as in “protected” or as in “investigated” as I think that if GogPlod operated in the latter mode they would need a few buses to cart off all the delinquents rounded up tens or hundreds of miles from their primary residences.

        1. Brychan

          I mean policed. As in the public enquiry into race riots in English cities concluding that offences of looting and burning could have been prevented by community policing and it is the failure of the police to win the confidence of the resident community.

          (a) Method – property status. There will be holiday homes that are financed by ‘buy-to-let’ mortgages, the proprietor will suffer income loss at their primary residence because of lockdown, rental losses and furlough. The result would be foreclosure or disposal of the second home releasing the property into the local housing market, at this point the property no longer becomes a policing issue. Knockup would involve asking to see the 2020 council tax bill, properties of full title can be identified at the land registry.

          (b) Method – Occupier status. There are some SME new build properties specifically for use as holiday homes. Due to reduced ‘season’ these enterprises may well downsize, again releasing the property into the local housing market, at this point the property no longer becomes a policing issue. Knockup would involve in checking the key worker ID.

          Having just watched FM Drakewell avoid answering questions on Politics Wales on the BBC, he said that there are ‘human rights issues’. This is of course, complete bollocks.

          There is nothing stopping a police officer making enquiries by knocking on the front door of a property suspected to being occupied in breach of current guidelines, as well as reminding occupants of their current responsibilities. He was correct to identify that the local authority holds the data relating to primary occupancy, however, the occupier of a suspect property would also be in possession of the council tax bill sent out in March, payable from April, indicating the status of the said property.

          Ask to see it, along with any ‘key worker ID or letter of confirmation.

          Busses are not required, anon. It they arrive by car a simple PNC check on the vehicle would suffice, if there is an insurance anomaly, the police already have powers to seize it. There is a railway station in Pwllheli.

          Such a processes and a standard line of enquiry, and ‘human rights issues’ play no part, as would a polite request to vacate. If the property is registered as a business premises the eviction power is straightforward and rests in the same process as forcible closure of the local café. It’s important to note that the FM did not say it was the police that raised the ‘human rights issue’ but that the matter was ‘discussed’ at the meeting.

          This suggests that it was the FM himself who introduced this phantom barrier.

            1. Dafis

              apologies for turning up as “anonymous” earlier. Identity is one of my most treasured things. Anyway back to normal with a commendation for one of the tweets in your column – from Hywel Ddrwg, good name that! He lists all the crap that comes in over the Clawdd, I think this is just from Cheshire :

              Cultural harm?
              Immigration?
              Retirees adding strain to the NHS?
              Holiday homes?
              COVID?
              Uneeded commuter belt housing?
              County lines?
              Social problems?
              Ridicule and belittling of the Welsh language?
              Entitled ,white flight, gammon faced assembly abolitionists?

              With a list like that from one infested county how long does it become when we total up the contributions of all the other Anglo conurbations/metropolitan areas and townships. The stuff of nightmares !

      2. Brychan

        “how can north beach Tenby be empty while the High Street in Pwllheli is crawling with Brummies. What’s going on up there?”

        Data snapshot..
        No of “coronavirus go-home fines” issued after refusal of voluntary compliance.

        123 by DPP*
        80 by Gwent
        61 by SWP
        26 by GogPlod

        As at 25/04/2020.
        NPCC.

        *=includes a multiple offender who pleaded guilty at Swansea Magistrates Court and is awaiting sentencing.

  15. Dafis

    Completely off topic I see that Kinnock jnr is again posing as the true friend of big international business arguing now that the UK government’s handout scheme for big companies doesn’t do enough for the likes of Tata who have made a fortune over recent years blackmailing national governments by threatening to close down or savagely reduce workforces. These slimy globalist bastards ( to understate my contempt) have accumulated serious wealth by running businesses in a classic tight fisted way. They have engaged in management charges and other one offs to repatriate funds from local accounts while allowing plant and equipment to run to the edge of unreliability then call on local governments to help them reinvest ! Always hinting or outright threatening that jobs will be lost.

    Likes of Kinnock falls for it every time. There again he and so many other pseudo socialists are fully paid up members of the “love the major corporates ” club. They can’t tolerate small scale entrepreneurs, venturers who really create jobs, a bit of wealth and add real value. Much easier to go off schmoozing at Davos and other big hot air gatherings with the heads of international globalist corporates. It all fits well with his rabidly pro-EU pedigree as that lot also found it so much easier to cozy up to the giants of global manipulation.

  16. anon

    Back to the CS thing. A skirmish in a long war? The truth will not out until Labour are out of power, and all the stuff currently under lock and key is made public.
    So, get the half wit to pay your legal costs. Jump ship and become an independent. Get re elected as an indie betting on Labour not having a majority after the next election.
    The truth comes out, bringing vindication. Labour never get in again. Win Win.
    Just saying

  17. Keith Parry.

    Now is the time to join the Welsh National Party and support Neil McEvoy AM. He is on the Carl Sergeant case.These doings need to be exposed in the public domain. We need massive change in Welsh Government. Free us of London Government and their Labour stooges who have been in charge for twenty years. Look out for WNP.wales.

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