All options available must be considered in a bid to overcome Pembrokeshire’s “housing crisis” as discussions on increasing second home council tax continue.

Cabinet member for finance Clr. Bob Kilmister said on Thursday (September 23) that the full report on a recent public consultation on second home premiums and empty properties was nearly 450 pages and included all individual responses.

Members of the policy and pre-decision overview and scrutiny committee discussed the consultation report as well as an update from the council tax working group’s conclusions at its meeting with some mindful of being seen to have made up their minds before full council discussions.

Clr. Kilmister also highlighted the launching of a Welsh Government consultation on the issue of second homes with a cabinet response likely to include reference to planning legislation, rate solutions, and the licensing of accommodation.

A report to committee states that there were 1,373 responses to the consultation and the committee will scrutinise the review report, which also includes long term empty properties.

The most popular option overall in the consultation was a council tax premium of 25 per cent – half the current 50 per cent premium – which was supported by 638 of all respondents, and 599 respondents who own a second home.

Of those who did not own a second home the most popular option was a 100 per cent premium, supported by 275 respondents.

At Thursday’s committee questions were raised about people with annexes classed as second homes, the Welsh Government consideration of a statutory registration or licensing scheme for holiday accommodation operators and the potential for a tourist tax to raise money for housing and communities.

“In the last few years the pressures on some communities in Pembrokeshire have become enormous and in fact they are now unsustainable,” said Clr. Mike Evans, who represents Tenby’s South ward, adding that rent and purchase prices were “so extortionate that local people are being driven out of their communities.”

The council tax working group discussed the consultation earlier this month and were happy with how it had been carried out, recommending to cabinet that it “maximise the revenues available to the council and to ring fence any additional funds for affordable housing.”

Cabinet will discuss the matter next month before a final decision is taken on any premium increase by full council.