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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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’.
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.
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?
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 ♦