On the first weekend of March, RLA Wales visited the Welsh Conservative Party conference in Llangollen, Denbighshire ahead of next Spring’s Welsh Parliament election.
This was meant to be the first of three conferences for the RLA in Wales this month, but the Plaid Cymru and Welsh Labour conferences – meant to be held in Llangollen and Llandudno, respectively, over the last two weekends of March – were cancelled due to the ongoing risk to public health caused by Coronavirus. However, the RLA’s work was an area of much interest to MPs, AMs, councillors, stakeholders, and members as well as the landlords that were in attendance here.
(Main Picture caption: RLA Wales policy officer Calum Davies with Cllr Joel Williams)
The RLA Wales team spoke to those who came to our stand about our priorities and those of NRLA Wales. These included:
- Ensuring equitable compromises are reached in the Renting Homes (Amendment) Bill between government objectives and the ability of landlords to protect their rights.
- Streamlining licensing requirements without compromising on standards by moving existing requirements from ineffective local schemes to upcoming Fitness for Human Habitation standards and Rent Smart Wales tests.
- Improving private rented stock and bringing empty properties back into use through government financial support, a holistic approach to council tax premiums, and a pro-investment attitude towards Land Transaction Tax.
We also got many attendees to take part in our myth-busting quiz where we showed the need to retain Section 21 (or equivalent), the folly of rent controls, and the
poor enforcement activity of local authorities.
However, our most popular resource were our maps: we showed the consistency seats in Wales won in the 2016 Assembly and 2019 general elections that were won with majorities that are lower than the landlord population in that area. With around 10 of the 40 seats on each map coloured in, minds were focussed as they no doubt would have been at the other conferences as we detailed how landlords could be mobilised as an electoral force.
We ensured that we got to spoke to Welsh Conservatives politicians that do or could soon play an important role in their policymaking as we conveyed the importance of our priorities, either at our exhibition stand or the conference supper and dinner that we attended. We are very grateful to David Melding AM (Shadow Housing Minister), Darren Millar AM (Policy Director), Mark Isherwood AM (Shadow Local Government Minister), Cllr Sam Rowlands (Conwy Council Leader), Cllr Joel Williams (Cardiff North candidate for 2021), Cllr Gareth Davies (Vale of Clwyd candidate for 2021), Cllr Amanda Jenner (Powys councillor), Cllr Adrian Robson (Cardiff Council Conservative Group leader), Simon Baynes MP (Clwyd South), Angela Burns AM (Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire), Russell George AM (Montgomeryshire), and many more.
We also met with Mohammad ‘Oscar’ Asghar (pictured below), the AM for South Wales East, the region in which RLA Wales has a high concentration of members.
The Welsh Labour conference has been postponed indefinitely. Plaid Cymru have cancelled their Spring conference, but their traditional Autumn conference is still due to go ahead in Llanelli in October. RLA Wales will be attending these events and will continue to engage with the parties outside of the conference arena.