"English" shouldn’t be housing patsies

Posted: July 13, 2007 in Uncategorized
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Threatening incomers and burning second homes is on the agenda of some Cornish nationalists.
There’s a growing anger at rich retirees and holiday-home owners.
Prices have soared and the market has been so tightly squeezed that locals can’t afford homes.
Blow-ins like rich chefs Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver have left a bad taste.
The Cornish National Liberation Army – possibly just one man and a pasty – claims: “This year or the next two years Cornwall will see a huge change in nationalism. You will see a lot of second homes going up in smoke.”
The CNLA has “a real dislike towards the English” and claims connections with the Free Wales Army.
Of course, in Wales, the whole story strikes a familiar ring: over-inflated house prices, anger at incomers, holiday homes ablaze. Indeed, the CNLA claims solidarity with Meibion Glyndwr, who put a match to around 200 second homes back in the 1980s.
But why turn matters of affordable housing and fairness into racial or nationalist hate?
Celebrating your culture involves inviting others to enjoy it too.
Tackling inflated housing prices is about socio-economics rather than fighting your neighbour.
It’s not about where people are from, or about hating “the English” as the Cornish activists do.
It’s about bad housing, low wages and a high level of part-time jobs.
It’s about cutting back the grasping greed of buy-to-let landlords.
We could look to Spain for some answers – there, the government takes between 25-35 per cent in tax off landlord’s rental income.
After all, it’s not only people from the south-east of England who snap up Welsh or Cornish holiday homes – and most of them have housing crises of their own.
In a recent survey an astonishing 98 per cent of homes in the south-east were deemed unaffordable for fire-fighters, police, teachers, nurses and ambulance staff.
And these are the people we dub “key workers”. What sort of society allows them to be priced out of the housing market?
Forget race and regionalism. Think fairness.

:: The Big Issue Cymru, July 9-15

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