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MP Sarah Wollaston accuses second home owners of sucking the life out of South Hams communities.

MP SARAH Wollaston has accused second home owners of sucking the life out of South Hams communities.
In a series of hard-hitting tweets the MP declared that the district does not need any more second homes which she claimed can turn local communities into ‘ghost towns’.
And she pointed out that too many young people cannot even afford to rent a home in the area let alone buy one.
She warned that the level of second home ownership across the district is ‘now making life miserable for young people in South Devon’.
Now the MP has asked constituents to tweet her back with new ideas on how to supply ‘genuinely’ affordable housing for young people.
Dartmouth’s Townstal district councillor Ben Cooper echoed the MP’s concerns as he said: ‘Sarah is right in much of what she has said, Dartmouth and much of the South Hams does have a high proportion of second homes which do push up prices beyond the reach of the majority of local young people – including myself.’
But he cautioned: ‘We must be careful not to scapegoat second home owners, many jobs in the area are reliant on them, from cafe workers to builders. The real issue here is lack of investment from government.’
He added: ‘The first thing we need to do is determine what genuinely affordable means, with the average earnings for a single person under £19,000 we have to look at starter homes at a lot less then the £150,000 price tag I regularly see for the area.
‘What can be done? Well, a massive investment from government in new homes is needed – give councils money to build and sell homes at no profit, and also to provide more homes at social rent levels – for some people, buying simply isn’t right and rents are also high.
Figures showed three years ago that there were 4,162 homes in the South Hams whose owners were claiming a second homes discount. Salcombe had the highest number with 692, with Dartmouth coming in at 628. The number in Kingsbridge was 186 while Totnes had 101.
At the same time house prices in the South Hams have risen to become the highest in the region while wages still remain well below average.
Last week Dr Wollaston met young people from both Dartmouth and Totnes at Westminster as they spelled out their plight when it comes to renting or buying a home in the district,
At the weekend the tweeting MP fired off a broadside at second home owners whose houses are left empty most of the year. She declared: ‘We need more affordable homes but we don’t need more second homes.’
She added: ‘Our economy can benefit from second homes if they are also let out but selfish ghost towns/villages just suck the life out of our communities.’

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