A Tenby native has voiced further concerns that second homes and holiday lets are ‘destroying lives’ throughout his community, and others in Pembrokeshire, stating that it is ‘criminal’ to see local families driven out of their own towns.

With Pembrokeshire currently having the second highest rate of second or empty homes in Wales, twenty-six-year-old Niall Mills, who is Tenby born and bred, took it upon himself one day this busy summer, to make a stand along the main route into the seaside town, holding up a sign stating ‘Hello second home owners...goodbye locals and community’ to see what reaction his statement would get.

“I stood outside of Tenby with this sign, and I had a lot of support from local people, some even parked up, shook my hand, and told me about how second homes and holiday lets are destroying their lives,” explained Niall in an account of what he experienced.

“One lady pulled up with a small child in the back, said she was being declared homeless in July. She cried whilst telling me. She was born in Pembrokeshire and has lived and worked here her entire life.

“The small property she rented on a quiet residential street for over a decade, was recently turned into a holiday let by the landlord. She can’t find anywhere remotely close to her work or her child’s school. She’ll have to leave her family and friends. Leave her home and relocate. I felt helpless. This is a crisis!

“It’s not hard to see how much Tenby has changed in the last few years. New bourgeois shops and chic restaurants are opening, whose prices don’t reflect the average income of locals.

“I know that when I grew up, my family, as well as other working-class families, could never have afforded them. Businesses that you’d normally only see in certain boroughs of London.

“Tenby’s more modest, bona fide vendors are closing rapidly. Are we catering for ourselves anymore? Or the upper-class tourist that visits once or twice a year?”

Niall says that a ‘staggering amount’ of Tenby’s properties are now holiday lets or second homes ‘for the rich’ - and the rate at which this is increasing is ‘frightening’ he says.

“People from away, with absolutely no ties to the area, are purchasing properties at absurd prices that locals simply can’t compete with!” he continued.

“They’re no longer being used as homes, but as investment opportunities. They’re rented as holiday lets, instead of full-time rentals to a family that really need it.

“The money they earn isn’t even going back into our own community, but their metropolitan communities where they live instead.

“Then we have the ultra-rich who purchase second homes for their own amusement, which are left vacant throughout most of the year.

“However, what gets to me the most are the local people that capitalise on this trend. They rent their subsequent properties as holiday lets, instead of long-term rentals to a local family who desperately need a home.

“My family, like many other local families, have always rented. We’ve always felt secure, up until the last few years. I’ve either lived in the scarce council-housing Tenby has to offer, or rented from local landlords who’ve kept their prices affordable and stable.

“However, that trust has been completely broken. Family and friends of mine have been vacated with little notice, as their homes are turned into more profitable ventures.

“There is absolutely nowhere to rent long-term. Absolutely no alternative. Most of Tenby’s population can’t afford to buy, so long-term rentals are crucial.

“The local people capitalising on this, are betraying their own community. The very people who’ve supported them their entire life. It’s criminal.

“They have educated their children here, worked here, managed to build a life here, yet they’re pushing their community out. They can’t say they truly care for Tenby.

“I have always bought locally, ate at local restaurants, and supported the local economy. It’s many of these vendors that own holiday properties. It feels like a massive stab in the back. It’s only downhill from here.”

Niall says that he is far from against tourism, but believes there needs to be a greater balance, otherwise there will be no-one left living in communities to work in the trade.

“Restaurants and businesses are closing as there are no staff available!” he continued.

“Those who work these minimum wage hospitality jobs can no longer afford to live here.

“I want to make it clear that I am not against tourism. I am aware that I live in a seaside town, that relies heavily on the tourism-trade.

“I am aware of the huge benefits, and I am grateful to anyone who holidays in Tenby and spends their hard-earned money here.

“I have worked in the hospitality industry my entire life and my father owns a business here.

“However, Tenby had a booming tourism industry well before the recent influx of second homes and holiday lets. We also had a town and a thriving community. We had a balance.

“What I can’t stand is the notion that we benefit economically from second home and holiday home owners. What’s the point in benefitting economically if we can no longer live here?

“Something needs to be done. Otherwise, we’ll end up as just another seaside resort that used to be a seaside town!” added Niall.

Pembrokeshire County Council recently ran a consultation exercise on the authority’s policies relating to second homes and long term empty properties, with the responses provided to be compiled into a report to be considered by Cabinet before a final decision on the options will be made by full Council on October 14.

The authority has stated that reducing the number of second homes and long term empty homes is seen as desirable as increasing the supply of affordable housing across Pembrokeshire is a priority.

Clr. Bob Kilmister, the Cabinet Member for Finance, recently stated: “While people from elsewhere in the UK find it relatively easy to afford property in Pembrokeshire, it is much more difficult for those living and earning locally.

“A high proportion of second homes in a community also poses a threat to the viability of local schools and opportunities to nurture and grow the Welsh language.

County councillor Michael Williams, who represents the Tenby North ward, said that it was good to see that people were waking up to the impact the second homes crisis is having on local communities, but without ‘drastic action’ to address the issue, communities such as Tenby will become ‘unrecognizable’ with ‘irreparable damage’ done, he remarked.

“The situation is now beyond desperate with an enormous growth of properties being converted to Airbnb which is exacerbating an already critical housing situation!” he said.

“The private letting base which we have in the past always looked towards as a reliable source to house young families is now drying up due to this.

“I notice the campaign ‘Wales is not for sale’ - but I’m afraid Tenby has already be bought by people who contribute less than nothing!

“Young families that I know of have been saving for years to raise a deposit, but each time they achieve their targets, they find the goalposts have been moved thanks to selfish individuals who are able to buy properties as their second homes, pushing prices up.

“What I find utterly galling is these people then tell us what a huge benefit they bring to the area. I just wish they could spend time with me when I have young families calling at my door desperate for a home, and I am unable to offer any real hope.”

Clr. Williams stated that local emergency and rescue services such as the RNLI and the Fire Service are now finding that they have less locally based volunteers as ‘less and less’ homes within close proximity to these service bases are available to house young local families.

“I’m fortunate to live in my home town, as I was able to buy my home many years ago, before this lunacy and selfish greed grew, but we are now surrounded by second homes and Air bnbs,” he continued.

“The very heart and soul of my community has been destroyed by selfish individuals who contribute nothing to the community. We don’t need these pseudo missionaries telling us how much we need them, before they arrived this was a culturally rich and diverse community, which they have destroyed.

“I notice signs on display which say ‘Second homes destroy communities’ - how true that is!” added Clr. Williams.