Thursday, 23 November 2006
Charles and Camilla invest in Welsh hovel
SO, ESTATE agent Les Probert predicted in The Western Mail yesterday that property prices in the Llandovery area are set to boom with the revelation that Charles (and Camilla, apparently) have bought a farmhouse in the area. The Western Mail clearly thought this was a matter worthy of great rejoicing on the part of the populace since it devoted five full pages to the story.
The main feature alluded to "huge benefits for the West Wales economy" and mentioned the "warm welcome" given to the news by unnamed "business experts and economists" but the article failed to spell out why, exactly, we are expected to accept this as good news?
Property prices throughout Carmarthenshire have been booming for some time, driven ever higher by the insatiable demand in England for holiday homes and investment property. It is already the case that local people are priced out of the market and as the more picturesque villages gradually empty of indigenous population, so local schools and businesses are faced with closure.
It might be good news for the locals if they were able to sell up and move to, oh, I don't know, Romania, Bulgaria or Poland, for topical examples. But it's too late! English property investors have already caused booms in those markets too.
Ivor Jackson, the mayor of Llandovery, said he was "delighted" because, "It's going to benefit tourism to Llandovery and Myddfai and hopefully we will be able to have more investment come our way by reason of him taking up residence here. He might also bring in some more high-profile people round here."
I've lifted the above quote in full because I can't believe you really said those things, Mr Jackson. If I understand you correctly, you are encouraging the kind of investment that means your constituents will no longer be able to afford homes; you want to see the villages depopulated and the local schools close; you want an influx of hooray Henry's to grovel to and you want your congested, narrow roads to come to a complete standstill in the summer. Where's your head at? The good people of Llandovery should run you out of town but those that are left are probably blinded by the hype.
Charles may be totally out of touch with reality but his people are not daft. Remove the spin placed on the story by Charles' press office and you have the rather more prosaic news that The Duchy of Cornwall, a business of which Charles is the sole beneficiary, has invested in a 192 acre Welsh estate which happens to include a small coach house. The notion that he intends to use it as "a base for future royal visits to Wales" is clearly nonsense.
Obviously Charles needs the income that will come from renting the place out as a holiday let but the claim that "anyone using the property will be able to enjoy all the facilities, including the bedroom, kitchen and toilet used by the royal couple" is utterly ludicrous. That's how little they think of a Welsh person's intelligence.
I promise to eat my grubby WRU baseball cap if he ever really lives there.
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