A COUNCILLOR is calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to help solve West Devon’s housing crisis by banning the use of badly-needed homes as holiday lets.

Jan Goffey wants the Government to introduce new rules which would see holiday lets put on the market either as affordable homes for local people or used for long-term rented properties.

Her call came as West Devon Borough council chiefs voiced their concern over a steadily increasing number of rented properties being switched to airbnbs and tenants being told to quit their homes.

Neighbouring authority South Hams District Council, who are facing a similar problem, declared a housing crisis. West Devon, who have not yet officially done so, have nevertheless urged the Government to close a loophole which allows second property owners to pay business rates rather than the more expensive council tax, which deprives local authorities of badly-need funds.

Cllr Goffey’s call came as latest statistics revealed the South West has registered the third-highest increase in property prices in the UK, behind Wales and Northern Ireland.

According to the Nationwide Building Society, homes in the region are said to have gone up by 11.5 per cent during the past year to hit an average of nearly £295,000 per property — a figure well beyond the reach of most people in West Devon, seen to be an area of low wages. In London during the same period, house prices went up by just 4.2 per cent.

Cllr Goffey, who made it clear she was campaigning as an individual and not representing Okehampton Town Council who she is a member of, has launched an online petition asking the Government to step in. She said the problem was not just confined to West Devon.

She said: ’It’s in Wales, Cheshire and all over the country. Here, we had four houses built in Okehampton. They went on the market and in 24 hours, they were sold, three of them to people from Bristol and the other one to someone from Chagford.

’I have got friends with children in their 30s who are still living at home because they can’t afford anywhere else. People have to pay up 17 times the average wage for a deposit and the bank of mum and dad is no longer available unless they want to remortage their own home.'

Cllr Goffey’s petition is calling for the banning of holiday homes in rural and coastal areas and can be found on her Facebook page.

She made it clear that she did not have a problem with traditional holiday parks or farmers who might make some extra money by converting disused outbuildings into holiday lets.

But she said: ’I’m calling for a boycott of all holiday cottages. They should be sold at market price for locals. If locals cannot afford the sale price they should be placed for long-term lets for locals.’

She added: ’I need as many people as possible to sign this as I can see a situation where nobody local has anywhere to live.’

She was backed by Tavistock borough councillor Mandy Ewings, who said: ’I would say we are in a desperate crisis. There is nowhere to rent in the town.’