LOCALS living in one of the most beautiful seaside towns in the UK say they love it – but there's a dark side.
The village was recently voted one of the poshest in the country and it swells with visitors in the sunny summer months.
But in winter Abersoch, on the southeast corner of the Llŷn Peninsula in North West Wales, sits almost deserted.
Some residents say that will only get worse because homeowners are now being forced out by a new rise in tax.
This month the tax on holiday homes jumped from 100 per cent to 150 per cent in an attempt to free up properties for locals.
But residents say there are homes that have been in some families for "three or four generations" that are now being sold, and the people are moving on.
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John Brynmor Hughes, who owns a pub in Abersoch, said he was against the "very controversial tax".
He told MyLondon: "The other day I spoke to a gent I've known for 50 years passing by my house who said 'It's no use, I'm sorry to say I'm selling my house. Why are we being treated like this? We contribute to business in the community'.
"The village wouldn't survive without the tourist industry, it was originally a fishing village built for tourism."
Earlier this year The Sun visited the seaside village and noted that half of the former fishing port's shops and restaurants have remained closed since Christmas.
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The streets and beaches were almost empty, the local primary school had shut down and spiralling house prices were driving families away.
John said the tax rise was affecting locals too – his family sold a house in recent months and it went for £100,000 less than market value.
He added: "They [the council] are saying what they want to do is create an affordable housing market, well things are affordable differently to different people.
"10,000 Londoners coming to Abersoch is a rough guess, I couldn't tell you [exactly how many] – a fifth of the people who come to Abersoch.
"A lot of people come up from London, including Welsh people who have gone across the border to work or have an English partner and have inherited family homes [in Wales].
The village wouldn't survive without the tourist industry, it was originally a fishing village built for tourism.
"They’ve now got to sell because they can’t afford the premium rates – some have been coming here for three or four generations and can’t afford to keep them.
"It’s not a nice situation to be in, a lot of houses are for sale here now."
The tax rise comes after the village was voted the fifth "poshest" area in the UK by The Times earlier this year.
A manager of a local house clearance firm, who has not been named, dubbed the rates "absolutely awful".
They said: "The rates are also affecting local people as much as, if not more, than holiday homeowners.
"If a local person has an empty house for some reason, it’s on the market and hasn’t sold – they are forced to pay the extra rates too. People who can afford a holiday home can possibly afford the extra rates the local people cannot."
A spokesperson for Gwynedd Council said: "While we cannot comment on the reasons behind the selling of second homes, we can confirm that at a meeting of the Full Council on 1 December, 2022, members accepted the Cabinet’s recommendation that the Council Tax Premium on second homes is to be increased from 100% to 150% for the 2023/24 financial year and that the Premium should be kept at the current rate of 100% for long-term vacant houses.
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"Income from this premium is used to help local residents live in their communities by contributing towards schemes within the Housing Action Plan, while any additional funds raised by the most recent increase will be earmarked for tackling the homelessness crisis. Between 2019 and 2022 Gwynedd saw a 47% increase in homelessness numbers, and estimates for 2022-23 show that presentation rates remain high in the county."
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