Abusive anti-second home stickers circulating in North Wales reported to police as 'hate crime'

Anti second home stickers circulating -Credit:Daily Post Wales
Anti second home stickers circulating -Credit:Daily Post Wales

Anti-second home stickers being circulated in North Wales have been reported to the police as a potential hate crime. Deliberately abusive, they imply a return to the Meibion Glyndŵr firebombing campaign that targeted holiday homes in the 1980s.

Pictures of the provocative stickers have been shared on Welsh social media groups and one was spotted late last month on a road sign in Llanberis, Gwynedd. It is not known who is behind the campaign or if they have any intention of carrying out the implied threat.

The flyers have been labelled “vile and have also been reported to Facebook for “inciting hatred”. It comes as housing tensions remain high in northwest Wales amid complaints that local people are being locked out of the market by rising prices brought on by a shortage of properties.

READ MORE: Body of man discovered on 'industrial site' in North Wales

READ MORE: Met Office issues 10-hour thunderstorm warning with flash flooding possible

One resident said the emergence of the flyers showed how people in Gwynedd were being “polarised by fear”. A man living on the Llŷn Peninsula said they were “very worrying”, adding: “Not what you need to read in 2024. Let’s all live in peace, it’s not the 80s now.”

Over a 12-year period, from 1979-1991, there were 228 attacks in Welsh-speaking heartlands on properties linked to the holiday home sector. Targets were often second homes but they also included estate agents offices, boat yards and caravans. Tory MPs’ homes were also targeted with letter bombs.

No one was killed or seriously injured in the attacks and, despite protesting his innocence, only one person was ever convicted for their involvement. Initially, three other groups also claimed responsibility but Meibion Glyndŵr (Son of Glyndŵr) was the most persistent.

The new threat appears to be rooted in grassroots sentiment and the stickers may just be a way of expressing anger rather than an intended threat. One site promoting them is “Don’t Go Outside” – packs of A7-sized stickers cost £5.50 for 24. Some F*** Your Second Home stickers are underlaid with the Ddraig Goch flag of Wales. North Wales Live has a WhatsApp community group where you can get the latest stories delivered straight to your phone

Similar stickers have also been produced underlaid with the Saint Piran’s flag of Cornwall, another area riven by concerns over holiday homes and their effect on local communities. Stickers variations first began appearing in Cornwall and Devon two years ago, to tap into local angst, and are thought to be commercially driven rather than ideological.

Having now seen the stickers appearing in North Wales, some people are blase about the implied threat. “Oh dear, anyone want a vol-au-vent and to watch an episode of Benny Hill alongside their 1970s throwback to burning holiday homes!” said one woman online. “How to influence people…really really badly!”

To restrict second homes, councils can hike council taxes. Gwynedd, which has the most second homes in Wales, is leading the way with a 150% premium. Over the past year there have been signs the policy is working with anecdotal reports of sell-offs in places like Abersoch as owners feel the squeeze. By 2024-25, second home numbers in the county are projected to have fallen 6.7%.

Cyngor Gwynedd also plans to introduce Article 4 planning curbs from September 2024. These will require owners of main residences, second homes and holiday lets to get planning consent before they can switch to either a second home or holiday let. Eryri National Park is aiming to operate its own Article 4 regime from June 2025.

With these measures in place, one woman said firebombing homes was pointless. “We don’t actually need this kind of suggestion,” she wrote online. “Article 4 and increased Council Tax premiums, and caps to come, are there to support local people needing a home. No point burning houses - they’re needed to house local families!”

Hundreds of people marched through Blaenau Ffestiniog demanding better protections for communities affected by second homes and holiday lets
Hundreds of people marched through Blaenau Ffestiniog demanding better protections for communities affected by second homes and holiday lets -Credit:Cymdeithas yr Iaith

With housing tensions continuing to rise, last weekend a mass rally in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, backed calls for a Property Act to tackle the issue. The Nid yw Cymru ar Werth (Wales is Not for Sale) event, organised by Cymdeithas yr Iaith, demanded houses be enshrined in law as community assets.

A Welsh Government White Paper, The Right to Adequate Housing, will be published in the summer. Campaigners fear it will fail to address their concerns. Language stalwart Ffred Ffransis told the rally that Senedd Members would “rather we lose our homes, than they lose their seats” at the next election.

Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson on housing, added: “My inbox is full of teachers, teaching assistants, nurses who cannot afford houses to live in the communities where they work. That is the crisis we are living through, and why a Property Act is so important."

Similar hate sticker campaigns have been aimed at Airbnb and the holiday let sector. Last year these appeared in Llanberis, calling for “Death to Airbnb” and claiming “Airbnb Kills Communities”. Other anti-second home stickers include one with the slogan, “Not Needed, Not Wanted, Not Welcome” - this features the Eryr Wen, the stylised white eagle of the old Free Welsh Army (Byddin Rhyddid Cymru).

For some, the threats are empty and they have tried to reassure anxious holiday cottage owners their second homes are safe. Not everyone has been placated.

“It’s inciting hatred,” said one woman. “Trying to create fear. They’re doing it for a reason, and with malice how can it be ignored? That reminds me of people being told to ignore bullies – that doesn’t work either!”

North Wales Police were approached for a comment about hate crime accusations. Sign up for the North Wales Live newsletter sent twice daily to your inbox

Find out what's going on near you