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Carmarthenshire

Report makes recommendations to tackle Wales’ second homes crisis

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A Swansea University report has made 12 policy recommendations to the Welsh Government to address the second homes crisis in Wales and its impact on Welsh speaking communities.

After Swansea University’s Academi Hywel Teifi received a grant from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, Dr Simon Brooks, Associate Professor in the School of Management at Swansea University, was commissioned to report on taxation and planning policies on second homes in Wales and Cornwall. However, with the increasing interest in the hotly debated issue, the Welsh Government requested the research to be expanded in order to scrutinise some wider issues relating to second homes and to make policy recommendations.

Second homes make up almost 40 per cent of the housing stock in some communities in Wales and the report warns it is likely that demand for second homes will increase as a result of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Entitled Second homes: Developing new policies in Walesthe 81-page report examines taxation and planning policies, Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic, the impact of second homes on the sustainability of communities, the Welsh language and its future.

One of the main findings of the report is that the problem of second homes is largely a regional and local phenomenon. There is a regional pattern to the distribution of second homes and holiday lets, with a very high number in some rural counties such as Pembrokeshire, relatively high numbers but smaller percentages in some cities, and some post-industrial and urban areas have hardly any second homes at all, such as Torfaen.

Among the 12 recommendations for the Welsh Government, Dr Brooks recommends:

  • trialling in a community the establishment in planning law of a new use class for second homes. Such a trial would evaluate the feasibility and impact of requiring planning permission before converting a main residence into a second home.
  • adding a rate of up to 4 per cent to the land transaction tax on second homes in specific local government wards, or otherwise devolve power to county councils to vary the tax.
  • making the conversion of a dwelling house into short-term holiday accommodation subject to planning permission.

The report also recommends that concerned county councils raise the council tax premium on second homes to 100 per cent, and that the Welsh Government should consult on exempting short-term holiday accommodation from being eligible for small business rates relief.

Dr Brooks also includes one specific recommendation for Gwynedd and Anglesey Councils as these two counties form the core of the Welsh-speaking region with the highest density of second homes (10.76 per cent and 8.26 per cent respectively). The report recommends that they widen the Local Market Housing policy in their Local Development Plan to include more communities.

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Covid-19 and Brexit represent a real threat to the future of Welsh as a community language according to Dr Brooks, and in the report he advises that the Welsh Government should establish a commission to make further recommendations about the future of the Welsh language as a community language.

Dr Brooks said: “The likelihood is that structural problems, such as young Welsh speakers leaving rural communities due to a lack of economic opportunities, will deepen. However, this will not happen in a vacuum. Due to economic and cultural changes in the wake of Brexit, and also as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, these communities, which are already particularly vulnerable linguistically, and which will become more vulnerable for the reasons noted, will face stiff competition for resources in the housing market.”

Dr Dafydd Trystan, Registrar of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, said: “The Coleg Cymraeg very much welcomes Dr Simon Brooks’ report and we are pleased to have been able to support this important work through our small grants scheme. As the report shows, the situation of second homes in Wales is complex and varies from region to region, and the solutions are complex as they touch on economic, linguistic and planning policies. We very much hope that this robust evidence base report will be an important step forward in the discussion on the field and provide information and recommendations to the Welsh Government as they introduce policies to address the situation.”

Read Second homes: Developing new policies in Wales

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Dyfed Powys Police

Four men fined £6,000 for ‘barbaric’ illegal foul hook fishing

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Four men caught using a barbaric and illegal fishing method by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) enforcement officers during patrols of the River Loughor, near Llanelli, have been fined a total of £6,000.

They each appeared before Llanelli Magistrates Court on 16 and 17 June and pleaded guilty to the offence of foul hooking – also known as snatching – which is prohibited under Section 1 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.

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They were fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £10,300 to NRW for investigation costs.

The men were caught by NRW fisheries enforcement officers who were undertaking riverbank patrols of the River Loughor in summer 2021, working to address and prevent the use of foul hook fishing.

Each fish caught using the foul hooking method had been snagged on its tail, back or flank. All fishing equipment and illegally caught fish were seized by NRW and later confiscated by the court.

Alun Thomas, Senior Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “Foul hook fishing is barbaric, unethical and illegal. This method of fishing is not only indiscriminate on what species or size fish that are killed, but also inflicts untold damage to unseen numbers of fish which are likely to die of their injuries soon after. This is often made worse by using deliberately tampered fishing lures.

“NRW’s Fisheries Enforcement Officers and police take these incidents seriously, as do the courts. Hopefully, the small minority of anglers considering using illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines issued by the courts.”

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Romuald Krzysztof Biernacki of Dwyfor, Llanelli, was caught using the foul hooking method on 4 July 2021. He had illegally caught four mullets and six flounder fish.

Biernacki was fined £1,500 and made to pay part of NRW’s investigation costs of £2,500.

Hung Van Tran, travelled from his Gibson Road home in Handsworth, Birmingham, to fish on river Loughor on 25 August 2021. NRW fisheries enforcement officers discovered he had illegally caught four mullet fish using the foul hook method.

Hung Van Tran was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay part of NRW’s investigation costs of £1,800.

Duc Duy Tran of Brithweynydd, Tonypandy, and Tan Van Tran of Pentrebane Street, Caerphilly, were caught during another river patrol carried out by NRW fisheries enforcement officers accompanied by Dyfed-Powys Police’s Wildlife Crime Officer on 6 September 2021.

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Duc Duy Tran had illegally caught 14 mullet fish and was fined £1,500. He must also pay £3,000 to NRW for investigation costs.

Tan Van Tran had illegally caught four mullet fish. He was fined £1,500, plus £3,000 to NRW for investigation costs.

Alun Thomas added: “We would like to thank Dyfed-Powys Police, the local community and law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities. I urge them to continue to report such activity and we will investigate.

“We would encourage anyone going fishing to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations before going.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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Food & Drink

Carmarthenshire Perl Las and Perl Wen cheese maker celebrates Co-op listing

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A cheesemaker from Carmarthenshire has secured its first listing with the Co-op as part of the retailer’s continued focus on local and community sourcing.

Family-owned Caws Cenarth, which has cheese making in the family dating back to 1903, will now see two of its cheeses listed in more than 20 Co-op stores across the region.

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Made on farm in Glyneithinog, Caws Cenarth will supply Co-op with its Organic Caerffili – which has a light and lemony taste with hints of sea salt – and, one of its best known cheeses the Organic Perl Las Mini – which is described as a blue cheese, golden in colour, with a creamy, gently salty taste that grows stronger with maturity.

Carwyn Adams, whose parents rekindled the family tradition for cheese making in 1987 with the creation of Caws Cenarth, said: “We are absolutely thrilled. I shop in our local Co-op and regularly thought how nice it would be to see our cheese on the shelf and, now that is to become a reality. Working with Co-op will support our business development, and raise awareness of our cheeses, not only across the region, but also further afield as visitors to the area often look for local produce to take back home with them as gifts or to remind them of their stay in the area.”

Jo Wadsworth, Co-op’s Community Buying Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome Caws Cenarth on to our shelves. We know that our Members and customers value the quality and provenance of locally produced food and drink and, here at the Co-op we are focussed on supporting local suppliers as part of our commitment to creating value and making a difference in our local communities.”

(Lead image: Caws Cenarth)

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Ammanford

Leading insurance broker announces new sponsorship deal with Ammanford Cricket Club

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One of the UK’s leading independent insurance brokers, Towergate Insurance Brokers, has teamed up with Ammanford Cricket Club for their current season.

The partnership sees Towergate Insurance Brokers sponsor the upcoming Premier League match at home against Neath on 30 July, receiving exclusive access to one of the club balconies for 12 invited guests, featuring in the coin toss and appearing on the website and in match day programmes.

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In return, Towergate Insurance Brokers is providing essential funds to help cover the costs of running the club, maintaining the playing surface and ground at Ammanford Park, as well as donating two prizes of fourball golf at St. Pierre and Machynys for the club’s charity day which takes place later in the season.

Ammanford Cricket Club runs three senior sides on a Saturday, Cup teams on a Sunday and a midweek side, in addition to ten junior mixed teams, two girls’ teams and Friday evening All-Stars programme. They are focused on developing grass roots cricket, having over 150 juniors registered with the club.

Their first team plays in the South Wales Premier League and is captained by Alun Evans, ex-Glamorgan, and NZ Northern Districts player, for the 13th year running. They also have two allocated Glamorgan players available to their squad, Billy Root and Andrew Salter.

Peter Davies, Club Chair, said: “We’re really pleased to have Towergate Insurance Brokers on board as a sponsor this season, supporting our club as we continue to grow stronger after the pandemic.

“Towergate is well known here in south west Wales and have strong links with the sporting world, so having an association with such a large company will hopefully help enhance the wider attraction of the club.”

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Howard Phillips, Account Executive, at Towergate Insurance Brokers, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Ammanford Cricket Club this season, helping them continue to provide cricketing opportunities to so many in the town.

“This partnership was a natural fit for us as we have a lot of expertise in providing insurance to sporting clubs and associations, having worked with the Cardiff Devils and West Wales Rugby Union already this year.

“We look forward to watching the first team in the South Wales Premier League, particularly seeing Andrew Salter and Billy Root in action, and wish them the very best for the rest of the season.”

Towergate Insurance Brokers, which has over 60 offices nationwide, has a strong Welsh presence and a long-standing relationship with sporting teams across the country, having sponsored ice hockey team the Cardiff Devils since 2019.

(Lead image: Ammanford Cricket Club)

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