Aug 072017
 

Everybody seems to have had their say on this subject so I might as well make my contribution.

First, remember that what was passed a week last Friday was the LDP for Gwynedd minus the Snowdonia National Park, which has its own planning authority and its own LDP. Even though the Park covers most of the county, in population terms it accounts for just over a fifth.

This is due to the largest towns being outside the Park, while Blaenau Ffestiniog, Barmouth and Tywyn are surrounded by the Park but form ‘islands’ covered by the Gwynedd LDP. The largest towns within the Snowdonia National Park are Bala and Dolgellau.

I’ve read the arguments on both sides of this debate, thanks in part to Nation.Cymru, where we were offered, ‘Building 8,000 new homes on Gwynedd and Môn is a defeat for Welsh democracy’ by Huw Williams, with the counter argument from Dyfrig Jones in ‘Building fewer houses would drive up prices and drive away our youth’.

In a sense, both are right. But Dyfrig Jones is also wrong. Let me explain.

‘WHERE WILL OUR YOUNG PEOPLE LIVE?’

Once upon a time, when tribunes of a fraternal bent controlled rural councils, Ceredigion was ruled by Dai Lloyd Evans and his crew, one of the most corrupt, self-serving groups ever to run a Welsh council. (And by God that is saying something!) Not for nothing did Paul Flynn MP refer to Ceredigion in some Commons committee as “the Wild West Show” when it came to planning matters.

Because most of these fraternalist councillors were landowners they wanted to build lots of houses to enrich themselves. Dai Lloyd Evans even bought a field – or was it two? – outside of his native Tregaron and then made sure that the settlement boundary was moved to include his field(s). Planning permission was of course granted for said fields.

In defence of this bonanza of housebuilding all sorts of bollocks was trotted out; from Dai Lloyd himself I remember, ‘But without these new houses where will our young people live?’ We were asked to believe that three- and four-bedroom houses selling for £180,000+ (in 2005) were targeting young, local buyers.

Now I’m not comparing Dyfrig Jones to Dai Lloyd Evans, but . . . the ‘young people’ argument does echo the timeless hypocrisy of the former Ceredigion council leader.

For a start, too many of our young people can’t afford to buy a new house – full stop. But these properties are not intended for local buyers anyway, something made clear from where the new developments are located.

click to enlarge

The new housing planned for Gwynedd is mainly in the north of the county (as is the case in Conwy and Denbighshire) and there’s a very good reason for that – the A55 Expressway. What is taking shape before our eyes is a commuter corridor along the A55 that will allow people working in the Merseyside and Manchester conurbations to live ‘in the country’.

OH, GIVE ME A HOME WHERE THE MILLIONAIRES ROAM

Let me start explaining this with a wee digression.

When I was growing up in Swansea, someone who moved out to Gower was usually thought to have ‘made it’, done well for themselves (or maybe knocked over a bank). I suppose the Vale of Glamorgan fulfils a similar function for Cardiff.

On a larger scale, Cheshire entices those who wish to, and can afford to, avoid the urban sprawl of north west England. Some of the communities with the highest property prices outside of London and its ‘stockbroker belt’ are to be found in Cheshire.

Human nature being what it is, if you’ve paid a million or two for your house in Prestbury, Wilmslow or Alderley Edge, then you don’t want your idyll spoilt – and the value of your property lowered – by a new estate full of double-glazing salesmen and Stockport County footballers. It’s ‘Him off the telly’ and Wayne Rooney or nothing. Which results in many of those who’d like to live in leafy Cheshire being moved on. (This also explains why, in the code used by estate agents, Wrecsam is now ‘West Cheshire’.)

But even if giant ‘Sod Off!’ signs were placed at regular intervals on every highway and by-way approaching the Golden Triangle it would do little to stem the flow of the upwardly mobile out of the nearby cities. And as there’s not much of a welcome further west, around Chester, either, they trudge on further.

Another reason for building so many new houses close to the A55 is that politicians, being what they are – lying bastards, generally – can interpret this protection of Cheshire property values as an indicator of a healthy economy along the north coast. It’s nothing of the kind, or course, but politicians will never miss an opportunity to pat themselves on the back.

Just picture it – Guto Bebb, David Jones, Michelle Brown plus Carwyn and his cohorts fighting over the best spot in front of the cameras!

Finally, let us not forget the grand design to assimilate Wales into England. New housing built in Wales for which there is little or no local demand is a vital part of that strategy.

‘STATISTICS, WHAT STATISTICS?’

Huw Williams was right to argue that accepting this LDP was a defeat for Welsh democracy, though not only because Gwynedd council caved in but because of the way in which housing ‘need’ figures are arrived at, or contrived, and the ruthless inflexibility with which they have been enforced.

I’ve dealt with Local Development Plans and the Planning Inspectorate many times before. (Just type Planning Inspectorate into the ‘Search’ box at the top of the sidebar.) Reading ‘Planning Inspectorate: New Gauleiter for Wales’ will help.

The problem with LDPs is that the Planning Inspectorate predicted future need on a combination of population and household size estimates produced before the data from the 2011 Census were available, and using recent demographic trends – i.e. English immigration!

When the Census findings became available, and they showed that population increase from 2001 to 2011 was less than the Inspectorate had predicted, and that household size was greater – combining to mean fewer properties needed – these inconvenient truths were brushed aside to insist on sticking to the original, and now discredited, predictions.

One example is Denbighshire. The council there argued that in light of new figures the county now needed far fewer properties than had been called for by the ‘Welsh’ Government’s projections, which argued for 8,500 new units between 2008 and 2023. For what the Census and the ONS’ predictions told us was that the projected population increase for Denbighshire in that period was now 4,134.

The Planning Inspectorate accepted the council’s argument (how could they contradict the Census and the Office for National Statistics?) but insisted on sticking with the original – and now discredited – projection! The clip below is from the Inspectors’ report.

click to enlarge

So, for a predicted population increase of just 4,134, and a household size of 2.31 reducing to 2.23 in 2026 Denbighshire must still build 8,500 units.

Of course, it helps to understand all this when you realise that the Planning Inspectorate is an Englandandwales body answering to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London . . . though the ‘Welsh’ Government is allowed to pretend that it has control of the Inspectorate in Wales. It doesn’t.

As might be predicted with such a body, the Welsh language is a vital concern. The recommendation for Denbighshire being . . . bilingual signage.

click to enlarge

A SYSTEM TO SERVE WALES

Where Dyfrig Jones is right is in arguing that building fewer houses will drive up prices . . . but to follow that argument to its illogical conclusion is to believe that house prices will start falling, will come within the reach of Welsh people, only when the external demand is sated – but the external demand is insatiable.

With Local Development Plans we are dealing with a broken system, certainly one that does not work for Wales. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, and as I hope I’ve explained, is the role of the Planning Inspectorate, an Englandandwales body working within an Englandandwales strategic framework that sees Wales helping meet England’s need for housing. There is no way that such a body can serve Wales.

Second, when it comes to strategic planning, the ‘Welsh’ Government has willingly subordinated itself to the UK government to the detriment of Wales’ best interests. So much for devolution!

Third, as Huw Williams suggested on Nation.Cymru, the whole system is a negation of democracy that sees those we elect bullied by persons sent into Wales to serve a dubious agenda. That is bad enough, but too often the Planning Inspectorate finds ready accomplices in the higher ranks of council employees.

Radical change is needed.

It should go without saying that Wales needs a planning system that serves Welsh needs, not the interests of those who can’t afford to buy the property they’d like in Wilmslow. This must be a priority. No more imposed LDPs.

To build fewer houses yet ensure that Welsh people are not excluded we need legislation to guarantee that a majority of the housing stock is restricted to those with strong local connections. To those born and educated in the area, perhaps those who have lived locally for a given period.

It might be worth considering the models that operate in the Channel Islands.

On the largest island, Jersey, there are four categories of resident: ‘Entitled’, ‘Licensed’, ‘Entitled to Work’ and ‘Registered’. As the website tells us, “The “Entitled” category is attributed to those who are Jersey born and have reached the required aggregate residency period.  This category also applies to people who have lived in Jersey for a continuous period of 10 years.”

Jersey

On the second largest island, Guernsey, the system is even simpler. There they have a Local Market and an Open Market, which is almost self-explanatory. The Open Market covers larger, more expensive properties (some 7% of the housing stock), and while locals can buy in the Open Market the Local Market is reserved for them.

‘Ah, but Jac’, I hear you protest, ‘to implement such a policy in Wales would be decried in the English media as ‘racist’. Really! How could it be racist in Wales yet no one complains about the Channel Islands using these methods?

Might the silence have something to do with so many English newspaper proprietors and others having money hidden business interests on the islands, with the Barclay brothers, owners of the Telegraph, actually owning one of the smaller islands, Brecqhou?

CONCLUSION

As someone who has been involved in nationalist politics – often on the ‘hairier’ fringes . . . sometimes very hairy – I know that for fifty years our masters have carefully avoided gifting us another Tryweryn, or another Investiture, anything that might mobilise armchair patriots and produce converts.

Instead, the strategy employed since the 1960s has been to chip away at what makes Wales different. The most effective tactic being demographic change; reduced to its crudest expression – ‘Welsh out, English in’.

The beauty of this strategy is that no single blow ever rouses enough people to challenge the strategy . . . so on it goes . . . chip, chip, chip. The Gwynedd LDP, the managed decline of the Valleys, turning our countryside into a recreational and retirement area for England . . . all these are chipping away at the distinctiveness of Wales, and the survival of Welsh identity.

This strategy is succeeding; soon there will be little left at which to chip. If we don’t wake up soon and grasp that we are in a struggle for national survival, one that must transcend politics and take precedence over everything else, then we might as well stop kidding ourselves and call it a day.

A national struggle against English colonialism is our only hope. No party politics. No divisive ideologies. A national struggle.

♦ end ♦

 

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126 Comments on "Gwynedd LDP, and Wider Considerations"

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Sibrydionmawr
Guest

It’d be interesting to know what genuinely affordable housing should be priced at in Gwynedd and Mon, as there seems to be a huge disconnect on the part of, not only our politicians, but also many housing professionals, and of course, housing associations, who also charge increasingly eye-watering rents on their rental properties.

Whilst causally looking at the property market for Llyn, specifically Abersoch, (where housing seems to be disgustingly overpriced anyway) I noticed these houses, built to satisfy Section 106 requirements:

http://www.beresfordadams.co.uk/buy/property/3-bedroom-terraced-house-in-abersoch,ll53-ref-3796380/

Described as ‘affordable’ housing, I did a quick, simple calculation, and based on an income multiplier of a factor of three, it worked out that a worker would need to have an income of over £64,000 a year to be able to be in a position to get a mortgage on one of these properties. How many local people are earning that kind of money? I suspect it’d be struggling to find even one!

It strikes me that over the past 30 odd years the public have had the wool pulled over their eyes in terms of what it costs to provide housing. I know that there will have been significant increases in the cost of materials over that time, in real terms, as the specification for housing has increased over that time, but I just don’t get, (or buy) that they have increased by some many factors. I often look at designs that are being promoted as ‘affordable’ only to find that they are still priced at north of £150,000 for a modestly sized house, and that excludes the cost of land.

When I moved back to Wales in the early 80s, there were many properties on sale around the £10k to £15k mark, and genuinely affordable, even to someone on the even then modest wage of £5k a year. But I guess that was the back-end of the period of depopulation period in rural Wales that lasted pretty much for a century from the 1870s until the mid 80s. I know that there was some in-migration by people into ‘alternative’ lifestyles, but they were relatively few, and tended to be far more respectful of the language and culture than the later arrivals who seem to have been looking for some kind of lebensraum in which to do their own thing, and Wales was sparsely populated, and above all, cheap.

I remember passing the Centre for Alternative Technology in the early summer of 1975 whilst I was on my way from rural Lancashire, (where I was living at the time) to stay with an aunt on the West Wales coast, and thinking that I didn’t like what it represented, as it was just another example of the English colonisation of Wales. It acted, as many of us know, as a magnet to others of the kind of hypocritical minsdet that protests the effects of colonisation in places like Africa or South East Asia, but remains silent over the colonisations of countries like Wales. I have never changed my mind about that place, and over the years I think my feelings have been vindicated, but that is exactly what is happening in Wales, we are, slowly, but surely being eradicated.

Eliza
Guest

My mind is now absolutely boggling that anyone can possibly be against anything as positive as the Centre for Alternative Technology. Incredible!

Sibrydionmawr
Guest

Positive? How can an organisation full of people so opposed to any notion of Wales be positive? Website is English only, no-one working there speaks Welsh. There have been a few occasions where Welsh speaking staff have been barred from speaking Welsh. Need we say more? Those who run it/support it are colonialists. If your mind is boggling, and you don’t like it, perhaps you can boggle off back to England!

Eliza
Guest

Oh yes and we mustnt forget the low proportion of Welsh people that speak Welsh and therefore most Welsh people communicate in English as well. Add that anyone from abroad also needs to be able to understand everything and there are very very few foreigners that speak Welsh – but quite a few that speak English.

Myfanwy
Guest

The problem is Eliza, you don’t seem to have an awareness of how arrogant you sound. If English speakers move to a Welsh speaking area to live, they should respect that they are in another Country and learn the language, regardless if those native people speak English or not. Why should Welsh people have to speak English to accommodate you or others? this is exactly what has undermined the Welsh language in the first place.

It is the fundamental arrogance of English colonialism, that you can experience in countries all around the World, where many English people travel and live in a country and don’t bother to learn the language. The British Empire is dead, it is about time the English curriculum recognised this and started teaching their children respect for other languages and cultures, instead of imposing their perceived sense of entitlement.

Sibrydionmawr
Guest

Anyone can learn Welsh, and in fact I’d be in favour of rules that stated that all organisations in Wales that are in receipt of public funding are required to have Welsh speaking workforces in their entirety. I don’t give a flying fuck where they come from, what colour their skin is or what religion they have, so long as they learn and speak Welsh.

You are clearly another one who thinks that the larger the number who speak a given language increases their humanity. Traditionally counting a people was a way of marginalising a people.

It’s obvious that you are someone who thinks that English people are superior to us untemensch Welsh. That may not be what you consciously think, but it is basically the message you are sending out. Think about it.

Eliza
Guest

Well that would certainly be one way to ensure that there was extra pressure for a lot of the best-qualified people to leave Wales, rather than be forced to spend their own time and money on learning a language they hadnt chosen personally to learn. No one group of British people are superior to any other. What is clear though is just how divisive it is for information/public conversations (as opposed to private ones) etc to be in a language that most people won’t understand and therefore can’t join in and that does include most Welsh people also being excluded.

Dyfrig Jones
Guest

It’s late, so I’ll limit myself to two quick comments.

1. The houses in the Gwynedd and Môn LDP are being built on the banks of the Menai because that’s where the majority of the population lives, and where most new jobs are likely to be created. Bangor, Caernarfon and Menai Bridge are not part of the Chester commuter belt, and to suggest that they are betrays a lack of familiarity with the area.

2. My argument is that while immigration from England is the biggest challenge facing the Welsh language, we cannot and should not prevent immigration (largely because the knock-on effect of doing so would be even more harmful).

But let’s set that argument aside, and assume that we do want to restrict immigration to Gwynedd from England. If that is what we want, then restricting the supply of housing will not achieve this aim.

The demand for new homes in Gwynedd and Môn from “internal migrants” (i.e. People from outside the two counties, but not outside the UK) is far from insatiable. Research has shown that the vast majority of people (some 80%+) only ever move house within their own region, with 60%+ staying within the same local authority area. Contrary to what you claim, the external demand is limited, because – on balance – the people of Cheshire want to stay in Cheshire, where they have jobs, families, friends etc. There’s a limited number that want to move to Wales, but the insatiable demand that you describe is a fantasy.

And because of the discrepancy between house prices in Cheshire and Gwynedd, these people are always going to be able to out-bid the locals here. Limiting the available housing stock, and therefore driving up prices, has a marginal effect on their purchasing power. But it has a much larger effect on the purchasing power of locals.

I couldn’t care less about being called racist. I’m interested in policy that works. And restricting the number of new houses being built simply doesn’t help achieve the aims that you want.

I’ll set you the same challenge that I’ve set everyone else. Show me evidence that internal migration in the UK is motivated by house prices, and I will change my opinion. This is not a dogmatic issue for me, it is a pragmatic one. Prove me wrong, and I will change my mind.

Red Flag
Guest

Dyfrig, affordable housing needs to be affordable to a couple where one works full time for near-minimum wage and the other part-time for near minimum wage AND they don’t require some form of government assistance. The reason why it needs to be near minimum wage is because all you seem to be able to do is attract those sort of jobs and then brag about job creation – without realising how insulting you are.

If you can’t provide that, you are either a bluff merchant, deluded, a fool or a liar.

If you want to be liberal than fine- be honest about it. If you want to be left wing then likewise. But you are a moron if you think you can be both and still sound credible.

Yours sincerely

A Plaid member who will never vote Plaid ever again until you sort your sodding act out. And stop using ‘squeezed’ as an excuse for your/our poor electoral performance. ‘Toss and out of touch’ is more accurate.

Nigel Stapley
Guest

“Bangor, Caernarfon and Menai Bridge are not part of the Chester commuter belt”

Give it five years, butt, and they most assuredly will be.

“we cannot and should not prevent immigration (largely because the knock-on effect of doing so would be even more harmful).”

What would be the ‘knock-on effect’, and why would that be more harmful than what is already happening?

“”internal migrants” (i.e. People from outside the two counties, but not outside the UK)”

And that, I’m afraid, shows your mindset in a nutshell. To you, people from England are ‘internal migrants’. To me (and, I suspect, to Jac and most others here), they are ‘immigrants’ every bit as much as if they were French or Latvian. It’s the ‘for Wales, see England’ attitude.

Dafis
Guest

Going slightly off topic, it looks like the federal UK government is going to set up one of its major provincial operations in a jumbo building in Cardiff.

UK government agrees largest ever Wales office deal
The UK government is to open a new hub in Cardiff after completing the largest ever office leasing deal in Wales.

https://www.insidermedia.com/insider/wales/uk-government-agrees-largest-ever-wales-office-deal?utm_source=wales_newsletter&utm_campaign=wales_news_tracker&utm_medium=top_story_article

Unless this project contains a lot of double counting i.e jobs already existing in South Wales being rolled into one big lump in Cardiff, this news means a significant influx of government personnel into Cardiff and its immediate surrounding area. Won’t do much for Merthyr or the Valleys but Cardiff suburbs, the Vale of Glam ( Barry, Cowbridge, Llantwit and over to Llantrisant/Pontyclun) and east to Newport and rural Gwent will see more demand for housing. Is this any different to what is planned for the North Wales A55 Corridor ? If most of these jobs involve fetching people in from outside the region then Cardiff and S.E Wales will be further Anglicised. It also deepens the dependency on UK Government when we really need a sustained barrage of real business building with real commercial transactions at their heart rather than the pretend “markets” in public services that is being hawked as a solution by so many.

CambroUiDunlainge
Member

Hmm think that might go right up as far the Valleys but not quite into them. Been house developments popping up around my area…the local Comp was meant to close but all of a sudden minds changed and it got a load of funding for rebuilding (which is now underway). The two other developments I know of are quite near said comp with one being big enough to demand its own primary school the last i heard.

Sibrydionmawr
Guest

I read a report about this on WoL, and it seems that the numbers game is being played big time. The building itself has capacity for 4,000, but 3,600 will be taken up by HMRC staff, transferred from the Llanisien office they currently occupy.

Many of the comments to that piece correctly question the need to relocate these offices to a city centre location that lacks the public transport infrastructure needed to service this type of development. The old bus station was demolished so that the BBC could have a bright, shiny new headquarters building, and that will have parking spaces for 300 + cars, thus adding to Cardiff’s already chronic traffic congestion in the city centre, which is itself due to totally inadequate public transport infrastructure. The new tax office will be across the road to the BBC’s new gaff, so it’s going to be interesting indeed to see how central Cardiff copes with all the extra stress. The much needed new bus station is now apparently on hold, as the developer has decided that building flats on top of it won’t deliver sufficient return, has now decided that it wants to build student accommodation on top of it, despite the planning permission distinctly prohibiting student accommodation as part of the development. Even having said that, many of us in Cardiff are of the opinion that the proposed bus station will be completely inadequate, as with a mere 16 bays, it will be insufficient to deal with all the buses that need to come into the city centre. Chaos has reigned with buses in Cardiff since the initial partial closure of the old bus station, and then the subsequent full closure, resulting in chaos, and no-one really being sure where to get a bus. It’s confusing to people who live here, heaven knows what it must be like for anyone visiting the city. What particularly struck me about the comments was the general realisation that the needs and desires of ordinary Cardiff people are being completely ignored.

Hopefully many of the figures being bandied about are the usual wildly optimistic ones of the type often bandied about in an attempt at recruiting the support of the terminally gullible. I think the numbers for the HMRC are going to be pretty accurate, but all the others, particularly about attracting UK government departments such as the Ministy of Justice or the Department of Work and Pensions are just speculative, and indeed, will quite likely, (hopefully) go to some other more deserving place.

Dafis
Guest

Nigel and Sibrydionmawr are describing a mass relocation rather than jobs created – probably spot on. Thus a neat 2 shot bonus for the property developers creating a big glass monster in the new “Business quarter” and filling it quickly. This will release Ty Glas campus for redevelopment – posh housing you can bet as that patch won’t tolerate social housing for druggies, wife beaters and other nasties that are best packed off to other Cardiff suburbs more commonly associated with such downmarket types. I hope McEvoy is clocking this, because Leanne and her mates are likely to be going with the flow and seeing it as progress.

Jeremy
Guest

It could be argued that this sort of move actually weakens UK influence. For HMRC it is the end of a major reductions in headcount and the closure of almost every local office. From a position a decade ago when there were approximately 20 offices there will be basically one plus 13 people sharing a DWP office in Porthmadog. The same process has been happening with other government offices (Job centres) and the military (closure of Wrexham Barracks and Wales HQ Brecon). The civil service by its very presence chips away at Welsh identity, senior grades often came form outside Wales, as does the military and its withdrawal potentially leaves space for Welsh identity to re-assert itself. Although it is hard to say where that leadership could come from.

Myfanwy
Guest

Yes, once you wake up to the constant attrition that has been undermining the Welsh language and Culture, you can see the corrosive signs everywhere.

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/bangor-sports-direct-orders-staff-13437900

The constant bullying of companies such as Sports direct trying to force Welsh speakers to only speak english, outrageous!

The knock on effect of the property boom, where rich oligarchs, ex New York Mayor’s etc can buy London town houses in the richest Boroughs and leave them empty for two years, sending prices soaring, cash rich Londoners then move out to places like Wales and retire early, a complete disaster for communities in Wales, we have known about it for years, after decades of understanding this phenomena, why isn’t anything being done to stop it? (in countries like Denmark, you have to be a resident to buy a house and speculation on property is not encouraged, which keeps housing stable and affordable).

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/01/names-of-wealthy-empty-home-owners-in-grenfell-borough-revealed

So where does the fight back begin, what needs to be enacted right away to stop the rot?

Dr Sally Baker
Guest

As far as the outrageous banning of Welsh at Sports Direct is concerned Myfanwy, there ought to be an organised boycott of the place, Mike Ashley would soon get the message if his store went bust. As it is, the pillock who doubles up as Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws – who has no credibility among any Welsh language scholars whom I know – is going to ‘investigate’. That’s going to have Ashley quaking in his boots isn’t it. The Daily Post online today has a photo of Hywel Williams, MP for Caernarfon, protesting in the rain about a proposed Starbucks in Bangor. He’s not even protesting on the grounds that Starbucks are serious tax dodgers – and they certainly won’t show any interest in the Welsh language – he’s banging on about the road junction which is the proposed location being ‘dangerous’. Would he not be better employed organising the proposed boycott of Sports Direct right now? Or as Dafis suggested yesterday in reply to Jac’s previous post, get down to Sports Direct, go through the place with a fine toothcomb and identify every law that is being broken. I’m sure that there’ll be plenty…

daffy2012
Guest

“Meri Huws – who has no credibility among any Welsh language scholars whom I know – is going to ‘investigate’. ”

Same old….

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/concern-rising-over-top-welsh-2421425

Dr Sally Baker
Guest

I was going to be polite and not mention the fact that after every appointment Meri lands someone seems to point out that she’s slept with someone who’s a friend of the person who’s just given her the job. But you obviously know all about these allegations as well – as does the Western Mail.

Dr Sally Baker
Guest

Daffy2012 – just read on BBC News Wales online that the post of Welsh Language Commissioner is to be abolished. Unfortunately the Welsh Gov’t have already wasted money on 5 yrs of Meri’s inflated salary whilst she did nothing effective to protect or promote the language and indeed did the cause damage by being the butt of all those crude jokes about her ‘oral skills’ having landed her the job…

Dafis
Guest

DrSally – are we talking fluency or dexterity, taking it on the chin, too much to swallow ? …..don’t feel compelled to answer!!

CambroUiDunlainge
Member

Its reminiscent of the Anlgo-Normans settling Flemish people throughout Wales in the 1100s so its not like we’ve not been here before… just remains to be seen whether there is an effective way of dealing with it in the modern day.

Obviously thats not going to be Plaid Cymru it goes without saying. Sian Gwenllian posted on nation.cymru and although she was waving the flag for Wales she just seemed to be lumping us with other minority peoples living in Britain with a minority language. Just tells you what you need to know really… Plaid Cymru get to make a fuss about something that effects their voters, something they can easily make about Welsh people… and they expand it right into the wider scope of identity politics and “other people” who are unlikely to be Welsh nationalists and unlikely to give Plaid their votes…

Not that I’m against minority languages. I’m not. I imagine policies towards respect of other languages and cultures benefit from the nationalist cause but those languages usually exist else where and are not on the verge of destruction within their own nation.

Sibrydionmawr
Guest

That’s the usual problem with these ‘metropolitan’ right-on thinking types who suffer from post-imperialist guilt, they just don’t seem to grasp the difference between the position of the Welsh language and the position of minority community languages.

Paul Luckock
Guest

You maybe accurate in what you observe? However, the key issue for me is why the Welsh Government does not investigate new house sales to confirm who are the purchasers. Maybe the majority of sales are to people previously resident in England. If we know the actual reality we can then better inform policy making whether it is of the Channel Islands or St Ives, Cornwall type. Maybe there is a consensus for such away forward and it might be a consequence of the decisions of a new independent state.

I am not sure whether it is an explicit policy of Welsh Government to facilitate a new homes market to enable residents from other parts of the UK or globally to take up residence in Wales as part of a wider economic strategy.

What I observe is young people choosing to live elsewhere in the UK and globally to earn a living and pursue a different lifestyle to that they find in the country they were born. Housing is certainly a factor in that decision making process. Unless we create communities that meet the interests of the younger generation the significant outflow migration will continue.

None of the political parties address the grievances you raise!

mawkernewek
Guest

The Cornwall type policy? The one where the developer captured council’s target of 47,500 isn’t enough so the Inspectorate orders it to up it to 52,500 to allow for more second homes? https://cornwalldevelopersparadise.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/how-did-we-get-into-this-mess-10-the-final-insult-as-council-told-to-add-more-houses-or-else

https://cornwalldevelopersparadise.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/corporate-local-plan-adopted-dismal-day-at-lys-kernow/

It is important to remember that the St. Ives policy would only prevent houses being built as second homes, not the conversion of existing stock from year-round residency to use as a second home.

Ruth Price
Guest

It would be interesting to see LDPs for counties bordering onto Cymru – here’s a link to Cheshire West and Cheshire Council’s LDP and supporting documents which projects some 22,000 new houses by 2030 with most of them NOT being built in the posh bits of Cheshire. Perhaps someone can make sense of plans and we can campaign for the English to build more houses for themselves in those areas they really want to live? Sure many would rather leafy Cheshire than Cymru with all those pesky Cymraeg speakers and incomprehensible place names.

http://consult.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/portal/cwc_ldf/adopted_cwac_lp/lp_1_adopted?tab=files

Yawn...
Guest

Yawn…
A huge stream of political John Motson types, spouting figures and kitchen sink indignation…

Jac, stop moaning, get off your arse and do something about it. Start that radical Welsh political movement you so interminably wish existed.

Until then we can only see you lot as back seat drivers, camel skin coat wearing commentators, forever on the side lines screaming at the team on the pitch who, rightly or wrongly are actually trying to do something about it.

Do something practical, Jac and the Moaners. God you are all so boring…

CambroUiDunlainge
Member

All adults are back seat drivers when little league is in session.

Dafis
Guest

you are obviously up past your bedtime,now fuck off back into your pit and keep that dummy in your gob unless you got something useful to say.

Dafis
Guest

P.S If you need guidance, check out Brychan’s input at 02.10 this morning. That is worth a read and I will be delighted to run through your critical response to that.

Big Gee
Admin

A bit less ‘yawning’ and a bit more pulling on the ship’s awning would help.

CambroUiDunlainge
Member

This strategy is succeeding; soon there will be little left at which to chip. If we don’t wake up soon and grasp that we are in a struggle for national survival, one that must transcend politics and take precedence over everything else, then we might as well stop kidding ourselves and call it a day.

A national struggle against English colonialism is our only hope. No party politics. No divisive ideologies. A national struggle.

Thats the real problem isn’t it? Many people are not willing to put aside their own personal ideologies and are told to celebrate their differences rather than what they have in common which is why Plaid is more about differing ideologies rather than the one they were founded to protect.

Even Independence needs to be put aside… because people have to want to hear about it and the problem is right now they don’t. That is a catastrophic failure in purpose on Plaid’s part. It’s also jumping the gun… there’s a step to take before that and its defining or redefining ourselves as a people in order to heal the schizophrenic state Wales currently sits in.

There’s also the case that some poor fucker would have to lead it. Cannot be a politician, would have to be some one that could be accepted by people across the political scales. They’d also need to have personality and presence in the public eye… and I’m not sure there is such a person.

Brychan
Guest

In the 1950s, the Cwmbran Corporation was established, in what is now Torfaen. It built 25,000 houses to cater for the perceived shortage of housing stock after WW2. Unlike other public housing (council), a large percentage of houses built by the corporation were available as ‘cheap mortgage’, but fell inside an eligibility criteria similar to that of local council eligibility criteria. Being a ‘new town’ eligibility for access to these new builds was that you were from Monmouthshire (a footprint now represented by Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, and Newport), or obtained employment within that footprint.

The corporation was established under legislation passed by Westminster, Labour Governments 1945-1951. It also applied to Corby in England and Cumbernauld in Scotland. Cwmbran was populated from the ‘slum clearances’ of cities like Cardiff, Newport, and was also ‘overspill’ for the baby boom generation of the eastern valleys. There were specific ‘enterprise zone employers’ for the new town, like British Nylon Spinners, Pontypool (later ICI Fibres), phase two at Llanwern and other major inward investments.

Half a century later, If the Gwynedd Corporation was established, then you could build any housing that was required for local need. You’d have to be born in Gwynedd- Môn or already employed in Gwynedd-Môn, to be eligible. The homes would be affordable, a mixture of council rent, or cheap mortgage. Retirees and second homes would automatically be banned, under a 99yr ground lease plan (peppercorn amount to corporation but enforceable by deed covenant). I understand that Wylfa Newydd is likely to be a significant employer and that is currently used to justify the housing need.

I actually think that if Plaid Cymru came up with the policy, there is primary legislative capability vested in the Welsh Government to do this. I also suspect that Labour, would have no objection, indeed try to hijack it. It’s doable. Just needs the will and the vision. Given the existing linguistic dimension in the area, there would be an overwhelming majority of occupancy speaking the Welsh language, and second generation speakers of the future would be guaranteed with existing education policy. The only issue is where the up-front cash is found for the build? Simple, divert the public cash that’s currently sprinkled on Housing Associations.

Dewi ap Dafydd
Guest

My best is that these houses are planned as speculation that Wylfa Newydd will come, and these houses will be either sold to or let to the mid term personnal required. The promised new jobs are empty promises. The only local jobs will be the short term construction and the subsequent security and cleaning work. Does any one really believe that a French/Chinese consortium who already have their own teams of specialist power plant engineers will take on local people for the design and subsequent operation & maintenance of a new type of NPP? Of course not. They will ship in their own engineers who will live in the new houses on the Menai Straits. Those houses will either be kept on afterwards as holiday homes or rented out.
Chances are, the French and Chinese will buy them up anyway so their staff have somewhere to live. I’ve seen enough construction projects built by Chinese consortia to speak from experience. they contribute zero to the local community, have no intention to integrate as they will leave for the next job as soon as this one is done.

Dafis
Guest

While I accept that awarding a major contract like the building of Wylfa Newydd requires bidders to have a certain “mass” I also have difficulty imagining that the lead contractors cannot be found in the U.K. These large corporates, who operate on a global basis with “strategic partnerships” often via multilevel delivery contractual arrangements/practices, will have little or no regard for the local communities and environments in which they operate for a few years. Indeed their own expectations will tend to require local communities and environmental aspects to “bend” to their preferred shape and form. Thus LDP’s will be meaningless if you struggle to relate them to the ongoing needs of local communities but viewed through the prism of a global corporate it probably looks quite harmless. An opportunistic or self seeking politician of any persuasion will most likely defer to, or seek to anticipate,the wishes of such entities.

Dewi ap Dafydd
Guest

Granted there are major contractors in the UK, as there are design companies more or less capable of doing the work. However, as projects of this size are normally EPC, BOT or BOOT, i.e. Turn-key with operation and maintenance for a fixed period, and best of all bring your own finance, then these inevitably go to foreign consortia. See Hinkley Point as a prime example. It has not been awarded to a British led consortium, neither was any British consortium invlved in discussions for Wylfa. Any major British involvement will be in a subcontracting role, who use more subbies and yet more subbies. each creaming off a nice 10-15% share. What is left will be 5th level works done by local labour for a pittance. Major Welsh involvement? Even the Conwy tunnel was designed by Travers Morgen and built by Costain-Tarmac JV. Yes, Robin Jones made a killing with the earthworks, but that was also his demise. No major work afterwards, which is one reason he went bust. Any others? DJ Construction? Redrow houses?
The upside is, we may get an upgraded railway line in north wales, possibly with that new-fangled electricity thing.

Joniesta
Guest

Wylfa B I the main driver for this LDP. It’s in black and white on the first page. This development is unsustainable and hence we are faced with this ridiculous housing plan that will serve no one on the housing waiting list. Sustainable development is based on the principles that you should consider the affects or impacts on the economy culture and environment. The current LDP does not consider anything apart from developing a nuclear power station far away from London. The development is likely to cause a housing crisis by raising house prices and rent in Anglesey and Gwynedd. This coupled with changes to housing benefit rules will cause mayhem. Have a look at what’s happening in the Hinckley point area. Adopting this LDP was unforgiveable and Plaid should of made a stand. They have showed that they are unfit to govern a parish council and that’s coming from a member of thirty years. .

Brychan
Guest

I agree with Joniesta. To understand the housing need for Wylfa Newydd you need to understand how to build and staff a nuclear power station.

—————–

The core and HV equipment, control systems – This is a pre-fab operation of high tech engineering. Bits will be manufactured globally, imported through Holyhead, Liverpool, Deeside. There will be no local employment, and no housing requirement other than lots of room sales for Treaddur Bay Hotel.

The basic infrastructure – As with all major construction phases, steel erection, concrete, earth shifting etc. This will generate local jobs, during the sub-contracting process. Expect cash cows for plant hire firms in Ruthin, Warrington, Haysham for barges etc. The Welsh language may well be used in the cab of the Welsh firms, but not on the site.

The security jobs – They’ll be looking for ex-RMP, or ex-armed police officers, who have the experience and clearance, middle aged, sort who’ve failed the eye test. Most of these will not be from Wales. English speaking who will need local housing as they see the retirement horizon. They will buy the three-bed detached and move in with a forces pension.

The admin and menial jobs – There will be stores ordering, local goods inwards, bin skip fillers, canteen chip fryers, public relations visitor centre staff and cleaners. These are the only jobs which would be sourced locally, be Welsh speaking, and the main contribution to maintaining the linguistic footprint. Part time and casual, most likely to reside in social housing.

The technical operation staff – these will be electrical engineering and IT degree material. Most will be from outside Wales, English speaking, and buying detached executive homes on the Menai. These will number 50-60 staff.

—————–

The idea that Anwen who runs the burger van at Llandegau on the A55 is going to be able to buy a detached executive home on the banks of the Menai, just because there’s a power station being built at Amlwch is pure fantasy. She will sell loads of panad with sclodion and her husband Arwel might have a short stint driving a low loader for Danny Lawlor. It will not make any contribution to the future of the Welsh language in north west Wales. In fact, it will further widen the gap between the Welsh speaking native poor, and the wealthy English speaking incomer. It is only possible to pass freehold equity to another Welsh speaking generation if you own it, not a tenant, either social or private provision.

Hence my suggestion of a ‘Housing Corporation’ (above – golden share WG) which would bestow existing ‘local’ housing rights vested in local authority provision, while at the same time give the opportunity for council type tenant to become owner occupier. These will be the speakers and stayers. It’s the kind of lever that Plaid Cymru should be championing.

adarynefoedd
Guest

Really interesting analysis Brychan. The elephant in the room is the very poor skill levels in many areas of rural Wales, my own Ward 29% have no qualifications and this is replicated across a very wide area. Problem is that well paid jobs have disappeared and new jobs are minimum wage, the well qualified go @ 16 and never return. We do need much better STEM education, better technical education and jobs, I recall Jac saying a few years ago they should be provided and I think he is right. Councils and I am glad Council members read this site should take the lead, bring back direct labour, give traineeships to the ‘no qualifications’ group, bring back in house home care and give staff the ysgol /ladder that used to be so powerful. Health used to provide it too, bring back local training pathways.

Joniesta
Guest

How about this. Local communities generating their own renewable energy re investing the profit to build homes that are truly affordable to residents who have strong local links. Dyfrig Jones has mentioned a community land trust before but this is nothing new. The problem has always been the capital.

Myfanwy
Guest

I think that is a positive idea, but I also think that the sale of homes to those moving from England with huge capital gains, pushing up house prices, has also got to be addressed, as this is only going to become an even bigger problem in the coming years. There has to be some regulation, particularly on holiday lets, that are owned by people who have no local connection or who are non resident in Wales. For too many years, the problems of house price inflation has gotten way out of kilter, stoked by the House price boom in England, particularly London.

Interestingly, one of the main reasons why a small country like Denmark has a residents only requirement to the purchase of houses, is because of it’s proximity to it’s neighbour Germany, with it’s large, wealthy, population. If they could, many Germans would snap up all the holiday homes along the coast and foreign buyers laundering money, would buy up many of the houses or apartments in Copenhagen, sending prices soaring, as they have in London. Perhaps We should be thinking along the common sense lines of the Danes and start imposing stricter regulations, actually it should have been done a long time ago ?

daffy2012
Guest

But surely, that would be racist?

Sibrydionmawr
Guest

Who cares if it is ‘racist’? Which, of course, it isn’t. Strictly speaking, it’s ethnic, and as such we should be playing that for all it’s worth. We need to look at the campaigns organised by native peoples around the world, the kinds of societies that generally have the support of the kind of person who comes and colonises our country without a second thought, or indeed a sense of irony.

A significant residency requirement would be a fair qualification, and would put the brakes on considerably. The biggest problem is motivating those who have the most to gain from a such a changed environment, as currently they are so cowed as to be almost completely mute. What exactly do ordinary Welsh speaking working people think about their economic and social enthralling? Has anyone actually ever asked them? I’m sure Plaid Cymru hasn’t!

Whilst not an endorsement of the practice, I did notice that towards the end of the Meibion Glyndwr holiday home arson campaign that insurance premiums on holiday homes in Wales were beginning to increase to astronomic levels, thus proving that the campaign was beginning to have a real economic impact that, had the campaign continued, could well have resulted in a collapse in the market for holiday homes in the area. It would have been quite possible that these properties would then have become truly affordable to ordinary working people in the area.

Of course, housing is only one element of a healthy local economy, and again, it’s local people who must dictate what they want for their local economy. I’m sure most would far rather some kind of sustainable industry rather than the current reliance on tourism, which ensures that local workers are mere skivvies.

I’m sure that many of the sentiments expressed by those protesting against excessive tourism in Catalonia would be echoed in most of West and North West Wales.

Joniesta
Guest

fuck off play on.

Myfanwy
Guest

It’s not racist at all, it’s called self preservation, when you are a small Nation and your neighbour is a powerful, wealthy, densely populated Nation. A normal, independent Nation, takes necessary measures to stop being assimilated by a more powerful Nation, we have a lot to learn from this example.

The problem for Wales is that we are handed this racist card, every time We try to protect our heritage, we hear it so often, we begin to believe it ourselves and inertia sets in. It is often metered out by middle class, educated people, who refuse to respect that Wales is a different Country, with a language and culture under threat. It is a pernicious lie, it’s in fact their ignorant attitude that is the real problem and it is a fundamentally racist one.

Nigel Stapley
Guest

One response would be to throw the charge back at them. After all, if it is ‘racist’ even to speak with mild disparagement of our usurpers and occupiers, then what they – and the state and corporations supporting that structure – have done (and continue to do) to us must be ‘racist’ with knobs on. If faced with that charge, they might soon pipe down a bit.

(The ‘racism’ jibe is nonsense either way, of course; this isn’t to do with race (or ‘ethnicity’; could someone explain the difference between the two terms?)).

Sibrydionmawr
Guest

Baiscally if you think race = genetic, and ethnic = cultural you won’t go wrong. Trouble is to do with the way that current usage of the English language conflates the two. Does a similar thing with sex and gender too. Sex = biological, gender = roles, though here it’s a little more complicated and ‘fuzzy’.

Nigel Stapley
Guest

Sorry if I appear to be pimping myself, but I’ve just finished this rather lengthy blog post on the Newsnight affair, which some of you might want to read (if you’ve got an hour to spare!)

Nigel Stapley
Guest

Erm…I think something might have gone wrong there. Copy and paste the link if you wish:

http://www.thejudge.me.uk/Rants/Rants_20170812.htm

Dr Sally Baker
Guest

Just read and enjoyed your ‘rant’ Nigel. As I and others discussed in the thread earlier, the problem that the Welsh Gov’t have isn’t with the office of the Welsh Language Commissioner, it is with the person occupying that office – Meri Huws. She had relationships with numerous well-connected male members of the Labour Party and after every appointment that she landed, there have been allegations that she slept her way into it. This has been a major embarrassment to Welsh Labour for years – Meri’s former bedfellows are now retiring and dying and I suspect that Carwyn’s generation just want rid of her. It is rather too late – she is of retiring age herself now and has spent a whole career screwing up (so to speak), upsetting people and moving on once the wreckage that she created can be disguised no longer. She did have ambitions to stand for election to Westminster a few years ago but a group of local activists mercifully put a stop to that.

Regarding the BBC. Their coverage and attitude re matters Wales and Welsh have been dreadful for years. They do not even bother to learn the pronunciation of Welsh names – yet these days their pronunciation of words from other languages are spot on in true BBC liberal consensus style. The notorious Ann Robinson made offensive racist comments about the Welsh on prime time BBC a few years ago. If she had used the same words in relation to black, Jewish or Asian people she would have been sacked. Instead the Welsh were told to learn how to take a joke. The bad attitude goes right to the very top – I watched that big tosser Michael Grade insult a Welsh audience in Cardiff when Grade was Chair of the Governors. I witnessed the brainless Lady Ruth Deech cause even more offence when the old bat tried to defend the racism of the likes of Ann Robinson.

However at least with the Newsnight business there has been a fightback. This is great – it hasn’t happened before. The last attempt that the BBC made to discuss the Welsh language was a few years ago when they aired a Radio 4 documentary suggesting that Welsh was being forced onto an unwilling population at great expense to the taxpayer. Thy didn’t speak to anyone like me – an English immigrant who wanted to learn Welsh and is completely sympathetic to the promotion of Welsh – yet there are loads of us. Instead they cherry picked a few resentful old buggers with the worst attitudes to be found among the English who have moved to Wales and implied that most of us are Of Them. Then they interviewed Meri – who, being a total fuckwit, obligingly put her foot in her mouth and gave them the ammunition that they needed. I was told that the inspiration for this programme was actually a certain former professor of ‘entrepreneurship’ at Bangor University who loathed Meri and wanted to set her up… The original idea had been a tabloid expose re Meri and a Minister but that one didn’t get off the ground.

daffy2012
Guest

O/T
Dr Sally,

You tell us above that you moved to Wales. In fact, I was interested to know that. I note that you are sympathetic towards the promotion of Welsh. So this is what I want to ask you. Do you think that in order to preserve Welsh as a community language in what they call ‘Y Fro Gymraeg’ (Welsh speaking heartlands) ie Gwynedd, Ceredigion, Mon and Carmarthenshire and north Pembs…..should there be a limit on migration into these areas? I believe there should be. At the same time, I am of the opinion that some migration is beneficial for any society….even essential. ‘Our’ politicians of all colours are too cowardly to discuss the subject. But Plaid’s official stance seems to be ‘the more the merrier’. I’m sure you’ll remember the contributions of Dyfrig Jones in the comments of Jac’s last post. He is or at least used to be a Plaid councillor in Gwynedd. I believe there should be a limit on migration into ‘Y Fro’ but I am aware of people who are vehemently opposed to any limitation on free movement but who are also supportive of the language. Sorry for the digression Jac.

taffyman27
Guest

As an aside, I recently inherited a property in rural mid Wales, my Grandmother’s house as it happens. Which was originally built by the Forestry Commissions before being passed to the then Local Authority back in the 1960’s and finally purchased by my grandparents back in the 1980’s under the right to buy.
Having lived in and around London for the last 30 years, I have always had a long term goal of returning to my roots when I retire, so my plan is to keep the property, rent it out for a while and then make it my main residence when I retire.

I feel strongly that the property should be rented to a local Welsh speaking family so I initially put the house on the market with instructions to an agent that I would only accept Welsh speaking tenants with a strong local connection, and ideally children in a local school. I also told them that i was happy to accept a rent below the full market value if we could find the “right” tenant.

Three local agents all refused to accept my instructions quoting the Race Relations Act, The Human Right Act and in one case bizarrely Anti Money Laundering legislation, as preventing them from accepting the property under these conditions.

Quite why the government should concern itself with who I would like to rent my property too defeats me, and in the end I found a tenant myself via family connections who fits the bill nicely, and saved me a packet on agents fees.

However, its shows how difficult it can be to “do the right thing” in 21’st century Wales

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