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Last Updated: Monday, 27 October, 2003, 09:01 GMT
Anger grows over second homes
Home generic
Police have warned some homes could be incorrectly identified
Growing resentment at the number of second homes in the South West has led one opponent to suggest marking them with a "black spot".

The campaign centres on the so-called second-home capital of north Devon, Appledore, where more than four in 10 homes are only lived in for a few weeks of the year.

Devon and Cornwall have some of the most highly populated areas of the UK with second homes. In the South Hams area of south Devon, 11% of properties are second homes and in north Cornwall, the figure is 8%.

Terry Bailey, from the local charity organisation, the Appledore Pirates, said a Black Spot day across the South West would highlight the extent of second home ownership.

Mr Bailey suggested hanging a black bin bag from the letter box of each unoccupied house.

But police have warned against the action, saying it could been seen as an incitement to crime, such as burglary and vandalism.

Local people

Mr Bailey said the number of second homes was ruining the village and driving out young people.

"I'd like to see the back of second homes and then you would have the existing housing for the youngsters.

"If you hung a bin bag from the letterbox of every second home you could really see how many there are in the area.

"I can name streets in the village where they are all second homes."

He added: "I'd sooner people came for a fortnight and booked into a holiday home that was registered as a business and left the second homes for local people to buy and keep our community going."

But the idea has been rejected by others in the village who say it is the wrong way to tackle the problem.

The people who talk about black bags are Luddites
Chris Ommaney

Judith Redstone, chair of the Appledore Residents Association, said: "There is great resentment at second homes, but I don't know if it would achieve anything, and feelings could run high.

"You could provoke a situation which might not be very nice."

Local businessman, Chris Ommaney, said that second home owners spent money in Appledore, and were keeping it alive.

He said: "Villages like Appledore would not have any viable life in them whatsoever without second home owners.

"The rural economy, whether it's mining in Cornwall or shipbuilding in Appledore cannot support these small communities.

"The people who talk about black bags are Luddites."

'Different mindset'

Sergeant Alan Mobbs from Devon and Cornwall police said marking second homes could incite criminal behaviour.

He said: "It would identify them as targets for criminal damage and burglary and some homes might be identified incorrectly.

"There might be certain public order offences involved such as causing alarm, harassment or distress, so it's certainly something that we would discourage."

The black bag campaign has echoes of campaigns by Welsh nationalists who were behind a series of arson attacks on holiday homes in the 1980s and 1990s.

Sgt Mobbs said: "I think the mindset in Devon is different to that in Wales.

"The campaign there was long term. Lots of houses were razed through fire damage and we would not want to see that sort of thing starting down here.

"We would hope that communities would pull together rather than pull each other apart because at the end of the day this could be quite destructive."

Terry Bailey
"I'd like to see all the second homes in the South West marked with a Black Spot"

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