Former Love Island star Dr Alex George has vowed to go head with his plan for holiday homes in Wales despite receiving online abuse He received criticism after buying four cottages in a Welsh village.
The doctor and reality TV star, from Carmarthen, revealed earlier this year that he had bought four holiday cottages in Pembrokeshire to renovate and lease out for holidaymakers, but has also decided to give one away to a Ukrainian family. Although the social media influencer has been praised for wanting to help out Ukrainian refugees, many have criticised him for intending to turn the cottages into holiday homes.
Many young people in Pembrokeshire say they are being priced out of buying homes in their own communities because of the influx of second-home buyers. But Dr Alex, 31, has said that his family had “every right” to run a business as others do in the area, and described it as a “classic case of people interpreting things when they don’t know the full picture”.
He did say that most people are “incredibly supportive” and see his situation for what it is., and they had spoken to residents who had been surprised by the backlash.
He told BBC Wales: “In this situation, a house that my parents live in that has an outbuilding that has been converted to four attached cottages, I think it’s a very different situation to what people understand. My parents have every right to run a business as every other Airbnb or hotel in the region does as well.
“We’re not developers buying swathes of land and converting it into holiday homes, that’s just not the case quite frankly. Lots of my family are builders, or work in that area, and clearly there are issues with housing, but ultimately we need to look at solutions that include building more houses, or making more affordable houses available.”
He added: “People can be very angry about things, and I think in this situation it was probably aimed in the wrong direction. If you want to change things like legislation or support the local housing authority, then you should speak to local leaders.”
He added he is from the area and has three or four generations of his family there. Following the backlash, the influencer defended his move in a post on Instagram adding that he had been subjected to “threats of violence”.
Recently, the Welsh Government introduced tough new rules which would allow local authorities to set council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties by up to 300% from April 2023. The aim of the new measure is to combat the number of second homes in rural Welsh communities.
In response to earlier criticism, Dr George said on his Instagram page that he had been subjected to “threats of violence”. He also addressed people’s concerns and said: “For clarification because it seems to have caused quite a lot of confusion… These ‘cottages’ are a singular converted farm put-house. These are on the land / property of another residential house.
“I am not going to disclose all the details of this because of the obvious (it’s social media). There is good reason why we have opted for most to be for holiday stays and one of which can be for a refugee family and yes, afterwards a local if the family decide to leave.
“I appreciate those who have tried to respectfully share concerns about housing in the area. Sadly I have received a number of threats of violence which is never acceptable. Let alone abuse.
“You can take my word for it or not, these cottages would not be possible for residential purchase. If (I will not be pushing anyone out the door) and when the refugees wanted to leave. I will invite a local to rent the suitable flat.
“I would happily meet with local leaders to discuss housing in Pembrokeshire and see how I can support. I am an avid campaigner and activist myself but being respectful and reasonable should always be a baseline for discussion.”
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