Oct 062015
 

GREENWOOD FOREST PARK

Last Saturday, overcome with an uncharacteristic bout of generosity, I took a couple of grandchildren (plus wife, to look after them) on a day out to the Greenwood Forest Park near Caernarfon. Obviously an ancient Welsh name for the area, to be compared with Oakwood, and Folly Farm, and Plonkers’ Playground. Whereas along the coast, we invariably find ‘Sands’ in the name, so as to make it clear to even the stupidest potential visitor that these places are near to the sea: Golden Sands, Sunny Sands, Happy Sands, et-bloody-cetera.

For what it is, a few slides, some sorry-looking rabbits, pedal ‘go-karts’, one small roller coaster, archery and donkey rides, I suppose Greenwood is OK. But I couldn’t help but notice there seemed to be no locals employed there. Or let me put it this way, I don’t doubt that those working there live locally – they must do – but I didn’t hear one local accent. And let’s remember we’re a few miles outside Caernarfon, near the village of Bethel where, until very recently, everyone spoke Welsh. (Though, chwarae teg, all signs were bilingual, so that would satisfy Cymdeithas yr Iaith . . . if that organisation still exists.)

As you might expect, I made a few enquiries about Greenwood. It’s owned by husband and wife Stephen and Andrea Bristow and seems to be quite healthy, in financial terms. Which may not be surprising, given some of the grants Greenwood has received. For example £25,000 from the ‘Welsh’ Government’s Tourism Investment Support Scheme (TISS) for signage (without which perhaps the signs would have been in English only). Greenwood is now lined up for another grant from the TISS, this time for £250,000, for a few more slides.

Tourism Investment Support Scheme

I don’t know about you, but 311 jobs claimed by the ‘Welsh’ Government as the dividend for an investment of fourteen million pounds seems like a pretty poor return. Especially when not all of the 311 were new jobs, some were ‘safeguarded’; in other words, they were jobs already in existence that we must believe would have been lost without this investment. Either way, it works out at around £45,000 per job.

And remember, this being Wales, there are probably other funding pots claiming to have created or ‘safeguarded’ the very same jobs. Also remember that we’re discussing tourism, so many of the jobs created / ‘safeguarded’ will be seasonal . . . but you aren’t supposed to know that, so forget I mentioned it.

In 2013 Greenwood was ranked the ninth most popular (paid for) attraction in Wales, and a year later it saw 146,000 visitors. Divide 146,000 by 365 and you get 400 a day, and it’s not much more impressive if you go for a six-month ‘season’ giving 800 visitors a day. But then, there’s always the grants.

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COED Y BRENIN

On the way home from Greenwood we stopped at the visitor centre in Coed-y-Brenin, north of Dolgellau.

There was obviously some kind of mountain biking event being held because the place was full of mud-caked hearties and fitness fascists; nothing but rippling calf muscles and machines the cost of which could support a family of Andean peasants for a lifetime (and put the eldest boy through college). Conspicuous consumption was everywhere, from the fancy motors with the bicycle racks on the back to the £200 shades. But that wasn’t the only reason I felt a little uncomfortable, for it soon dawned on me that our family group might be the only Welsh people there . . . in the heart of Meirionnydd.

I later learnt that the event was the Trek Coed y Brenin Enduro, and although the results do not use the ‘Country’ column a quick glance through the names suggests that Welsh participation was minimal. I further suspect the event into which I stumbled was organised by Mountain Biking Wales or possibly Dyfi Events. Though the Coed y Brenin forest, and indeed the visitor centre, is owned by Natural Resources Wales, and therefore all paid for out of the Welsh public purse.

Coed y Brenin and Greenwood are examples of the ‘Playground Wales’ phenomenon that sees indecently large amounts of Welsh public funding used to encourage strangers to see our homeland as nothing more than their playground; an arrangement for which we pay, but from which we derive little if any benefit.

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WHOSE COUNTRY IS THIS?

Don’t misunderstand me, there is little intrinsically wrong with responsible tourism from which the indigenous population benefits without it being overwhelmed or having its environment degraded. But in Wales we have the worst kind of exploitive and damaging tourism, one that interprets people queuing to climb Snowdon as a tribute to the ‘success’ of Welsh tourism rather than a warning of impending environmental disaster.

That’s because no one will concede there might be a limit to the number of tourists Wales can comfortably cope with, which in turn is partly due to the fact that the money tourists spend here works its way back to England, unlike money spent by English tourists overseas. So the more the merrier, and sod the consequences!

As if that wasn’t enough to worry about, what we experience in Wales is to all intents and purposes English tourism. Most of the businesses taking the money are English owned, most of those employed are English, the vast majority of the visitors are English and, as I’ve already said, the money they spend in Wales will make its way back to England in VAT and other taxes, utility bills, payments to suppliers, etc., etc.

The extent of how ugly, alien and exploitive tourism in Wales has become is laid bare by people like Chris Osborne, chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance. Osborne, like many of the English running tourism businesses in Wales, believes that if all towns and villages, mountains and rivers, had English names then people like him could make even more money. To put it as he did in this article, Wales should have “accessible names” and “accessible messages”. (Fair enough. How about, ‘Fuck off, you arrogant, colonialist bastard!’. Is that “accessible” enough?)

Playground Wales

It might be comforting if Chris Osborne was an isolated example of those involved in tourism who view Welshness, and indeed Welsh people, as an obstacle to them exploiting Wales. But he appears to be the authentic and unadulterated voice of ‘Welsh’ tourism.

To prove the point, here’s another star performer. Back in July Irene Laird, who has imposed herself on Rhosgadfan, near Caernarfon, was found guilty of racially-aggravated assault and racially-aggravated threatening behaviour, for calling a local woman a “Welsh c—“. The report can be found here. The bit that really struck me was that, ‘when the racial abuse was mentioned by a probation officer to Laird “there was no recognition such behaviour was inappropriate and no element of remorse”’! That is very, very revealing.

That tirade would have been bad enough in any circumstances, but this woman, with her husband, runs a tourism business, Welsh Dragon Tours – which seems to be still in business! (I wonder if they’ve had any grant funding?) When you’re on their website, check out the ‘Testimonials’. They are all from untraceable overseas visitors, with not one from these islands, which set my bullshit sensors all a-quiver.

Here’s a sample: “Ten out of Ten for Everything. Mrs A, Tel Aviv, Israel”. “The scenery was stunning!  Thank you very, very much for all the attention given us over those 4 days. Miss M, Malta.” “Thank you very much for showing us around your wonderful scenic country. Mrs F, Yokohama, Japan.” I suspect that in addition to being an anti-Welsh bigot this woman might also be a falsifier of testimonials. Pins and maps come to mind.

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‘IT’S OUR WALES NOW’

What we see with Osborne, Laird and others is them trying to promote tourism as if Wales was just a scenic part of England. Welsh people, the Welsh language, Welsh place names and other manifestations of a separate identity expose the fact that it is not, and it also exposes them for the interlopers they are. This goes a long way to explaining why these people are hostile to expressions of Welsh identity, and this hostility takes a number of forms.

A few years ago, while sauntering along Tywyn promenade (I enjoy a good saunter), I noticed that one flagpole was, as usual, flying the union flag, but the other, where the Welsh flag had been, now flew a yellow and blue flag carrying what looked to be a fish and a bird. I made enquiries and learnt that new flag was that of Tywyn, and had been dreamed up by local businessman and infamous Britlander Mike Stevens, in his self-appointed role as driving force of the Tywyn Chamber of Tourism and Commerce. There was a bit of a kerfuffle, and the Welsh flag was restored.

Stevens argued that his sole motivation in designing a new flag was to represent and promote the town. Not, as some unkind souls might suggest, an excuse to get rid of the Dragon. But the boy got form for oblique attacks on things Welsh. In this incident, Cyngor Gwynedd quite rightly placed warning signs on Tywyn’s new sea defence island.Cadfan's stone Stevens doesn’t like bilingual signs, but he can’t say that, so he has to make himself look silly with contrived and implausible complaints.

Mike Stevens is now a county councillor, elected by those that tourism has encouraged to settle in Tywyn, to the point where they now make up a majority of the population. A picture replicated across ‘tourist’ Wales.

Around Tywyn now you will see another flag, made up of a rising sun and some goats, said to be the flag of Meirionnydd. Predictably it is favoured by those who have no concept of, and no roots in, Meirionnydd. It’s just another excuse – like the Pembrokeshire flag and others – to avoid flying the national flag of Wales.

In defending his contrived banner Stevens argued that the raven it carried was the “historic emblem of Tywyn“. In fact, the Raven belongs to the Anglo-Norman Corbet(t) family, but in the local church you will see, on St. Cadfan’s stone (see panel on right), the oldest example of written Welsh, possibly from the 7th century. Much older than any Corbet(t) connection, but of course it’s Welsh, and therefore of no interest to Stevens and his ilk.

You mustn’t think that this ugly attitude to all things Welsh, this belief that rural and coastal Wales was a desert ere the arrival of the English tourist, is confined to people like Ukip-leaning Mike Stevens, for this prejudice infects others. Brought home to me a couple of years back in an exchange of letters in the Cambrian News with a Greenie named Andrew Currie, who wrote, “He (moi!) has also missed the fact that coastal towns and villages came into being because of tourism in Victorian times.” My response to Currie was not published, but you can read it here.

What a frightening and insulting mindset we see exposed here. It is nothing less than the traditional justification for colonialism, along the lines of, ‘Well, yes, there were natives living here before we arrived but the silly buggers couldn’t do anything for themselves, and now they wouldn’t be able to manage without us’.

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TOURISM OR WELSHNESS? YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH

For some 50 years we Welsh have been subjected to one of the most sustained and successful propaganda offensives in history. We have been brainwashed into accepting that tourism is the economic salvation of the greater part of Wales, that we Welsh derive huge benefits from tourism, and that there are no downsides whatsoever. I think it’s time we woke up to reality.

Tourism as practised in Wales is nothing but colonialist exploitation. People from a neighbouring country come to exploit our country, and not wishing to be reminded of our existence, or their position as incomers, they seek to deny and destroy what is indigenous in order to promote a sanitised and more “accessible” West Anglia. Not only do those claiming to represent us welcome this exploitation, this discrimination, this ‘cleansing’, they are even prepared to fund it!

name change 1

The very survival of Welsh identity is jeopardised by tourism and the influx it encourages. Consequently, Wales needs a national debate on tourism. A debate informed by facts and independent research, not more propaganda from the tourism industry’s sponsored academics. If we are denied that debate then we must decide how we defend ourselves against this threat. For it is the greatest, the most serious threat, the Welsh nation has ever faced.

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121 Comments on "Tourism: Creating a ‘Wales’ Without the Welsh"

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Cymro Wladfa
Guest

Welsh names are far more beautiful that English, are from the country, are very ancient too. They must be Respected and Preserved. NO to English place names in Wales. Cymru am Byth.

Western Welsh
Guest

Some valid points but some things a bit off beam. Oakwood and Folly Farm are both in the Pembrokeshire Englishry, so their names are perfectly fine. Both employ a lot of local people and draw in a lot of visitors from South Wales, Ireland and England. Spin off businesses include locally owned holiday lets and B&Bs. It’s the beautiful countryside and favourable housing market that encourages people to settle in southwest Wales, not tourism per se. Once upon a time heavy industry brought many settlers into Wales find work – most of them are descended from them. It’s not the arrival of new people that is so concerning to me, but the loss of local people who can’t afford a house or earn a decent wage. Tourism doesn’t fully cure those ills of course, but blaming incomers won’t change anything either. Whether public money has been widely invested for maximum benefit in rural Wales is a more pertinent point. Arguably, all the eggs may have been put in the tourism basket with not enough attention to detail. But there are areas where tourism is a lucrative option and now the only option as traditional sources of employment have died out.

Rhod
Guest

Spot on again Jac but how can we defend our identity? Cymru needs someone like you to spread the word, please stand for a new political party and we will fight for Cymru with you!

dafis
Guest

That wierd woman T May was spouting her usual line of false drivel today at the Tory Rally somewhere “oopnorth”. Never fails to amaze me that these bastards don’t cotton on to the irony of their stances – hate all the change that immigration brings but O.K to impose their English values & heritage when they migrate to Wales ( or anywhere else). Well I’m sure there’s a welcome for them and their putrid values in Arizona, especially along that Gasden strip where hatred & fear of migrating hispanics even exceeds the English hatred of Asians, muslims and other “unusual breeds”.

Keith Parry
Guest

Snowdonia Surf breaks down again says Radio Wales as I read your article. £4million pounds of Welsh Government money down the drain on tourist white elephant. Employees being laid off.

Colin
Guest

Someone should be held to account here, it’s a disgrace to say the least. They didn’t employ many locals anyway I read somewhere so it’s not all bad!!

Brychan
Guest

It should be noted that when the ‘Docklands Surf Centre’ was proposed in London it was originally the same design as the one in the Conwy valley.

A basic flaw was soon identified in the design as the waterproof liner was subject to tearing. Although it was suggested that banning participants with sharp objects would prevent tears, all decent surfboards have fins. The London design was therefore changed to solid construction but the cost was found to be uneconomic. The scheme went into liquidation in 2010. Strange this didn’t deter the Welsh government throwing millions of pounds at the Dolgarrog scheme with a known and proven design flaw. Sure enough, the one in the Conwy valley was closed in August, in the middle of peak season, when it was discovered that a tear had occurred and it started leaking. Even if the Welsh Government had not been aware of the basic design flaw, what makes them think that a seasonal installation in the Conwy valley would deliver the number of visitors and create jobs, when such an installation in the London docklands with year-round transport connections to a city population of 8million was found not financially viable?

Here’s two suggestions from the valleys for whoever runs Visit Wales…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raPS0NRXobo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX6k07NIhvI

This is not the first ‘tourist regeneration’ crackpot scheme to get taxpayers money. Over the decades there have been many. Most hilarious ones I know is (a) the Merthyr Tydfil summer ski centre where the plan was to deck the mountainside above Pentrebach with artificial snow, (b) the Blaenrhondda Wild West Attraction, a variation on paintballing, which was to recreate a desert village on a reclaimed coal tip to build a replica of the OK Coral, and get unemployed locals to dress up as cowbois, injuns, and saloon girl serving wenches. These schemes never got off the ground, but I’d like to know which idiot thought that Dolgarrog was a good place to go surfing and then to make the structure out of pond liner.

dafis
Guest

a typical quip in Pentrebach at the time of the Merthyr ski slope was – ” oh, it’s great, mun, it fits in well cos everything goes downhill ‘ere anyway”

Nicola
Guest

To be perfectly honest, Jac, my feeling is that you whinge obsessively, complain endlessly and offer nothing but the bitter viewpoint of a bigot with a half full cup but never ever offer workable permanent solutions. Cyncisim is not a replacement for intelligence, my friend. Perhaps you’d have more credibility if you sought solutions to some of the problems which affect your daily joie-de-vivre

Colin
Guest

Tourism is all well and good, or it could be but many of these tourist orientated businesses are owned by people / other businesses from lands other than our own and as such the major income earned is exported over our borders and has little benefit locally other than to the occasional underpaid local members of staff. Anyone been to Abersoch recently? Rows of posh boutique shops with not a fucking local in them, either working or shopping! The only local we met was a lady in the Spar on the till. I live in Rhosneigr which is known on Sir Fon as “little England in Wales” but it hasn’t got a patch on Abersoch.

To any of you who don’t live in a community where this sort of thing is the norm can you imagine the village you were brought up in where you knew everybody and everybody knew you. A place like many with local shops, bakery, butchers etc. green fields, space for children to play turned into a place that’s sole purpose is to satisfy the hoards of incomers which descend on us for a few weeks every summer. Second homes out number whole time occupancy, every spare bit of land has been built on by some incomer/property developer trying to make a quick buck out of the trendy image the village has. A place where the chapel house (tiny as they are) has just been sold for £250k a price no local could afford for such a small place as long as they have holes in their arses!

Now at this time of year the village is all but deserted and in a few more weeks the shops will shut, the chippy will open on Friday and Saturday only. Although, every cloud has a silver lining, for the next few dark cold months I won’t have to put up with some arrogant sod from Bollockshire or some such place who parks his RangeRover across my drive because he can’t be arsed walking a few yards further to get to the beach. I won’t tell you my response to said parkers as Parry from Llais y Sais will have me in print again for being something or other he can horrify his readers with.

Tourism is fine, good but in moderation and it should be to the benefit of local communities whether in Wales, England or wherever not to the detriment and certainly not to the extent of killing the community

Brychan
Guest

ABERSOCH. In 2010, the Department of Social Protection in the Irish Republic introduced the “Non-principal Private Residence Levy”. The owner of a house other than a principal private residence must pay a charge of €200 per year. The charge applies to specific opt-in counties (like Mayo and Kerry). There are the usual exemptions like agricultural and fishery properties, granny flat within 2km of principle owner, and religious orders. Any owner who fails to pay attracts a ‘charge’ against the value of the property, imposed by the council. Cash raised goes towards a supplement to the social protection budget (old peoples homes etc). In order to comply with EU law those absent working in another EU state are exempt. The charge is in addition to rates (council tax). I was wondering why Plaid Cymru doen’t adopt such a policy and take the opportunity afforded by the current Westminster administration to devolve such a power to Wales?

dafis
Guest

Brychan

Thanks for reminding us that there is little or no need for “expensive research” or “indepth studies” so favoured by the Bay fraternity as there is already a lot of good policy stuff in current use elsewhere in these islands and in Europe. Now it’s not all perfect but it beats doing nothing and it can be tweaked every few years. Of course we British/ Welsh don’t like tweaking but we don’t half enjoy a good old multi billion pound local authority reorganisation every 1/4 century or so !. Follies beyond your worst nightmares !

Colin
Guest

Back on topic after that rude interruption below.

I can’t agree more about the need or the lack of it for expensive studies into bollocks when the answer is obvious, have a good chat about it and weigh up the pros and cons but spend millions? As a juxtaposition I read this morning somewhere about an American study into what would happen to an iPhone if it was thrown into molten lava, the result was……. wait for it …….. the screen and battery were completely incinerated, absolutely amazing!!! Nothing like a bit of common sense

I think €200 is a bit low considering the excess wealth these second home owners have (or at least profess to have). To me it needs to be high enough to compensate the community for the empty months when there is no income for that community not that there is much anyway as most of them do their shopping in Sainsburys before they come and rough it in Wales. 300% council tax would be my opening bid (but would be open to rising that) with the extra above the norm being put back into the community, local projects, community stores/pubs/post office etc.

British and Proud
Guest

Oh dear, I hate your kind, don’t you realise that tourism is the way forward for Wales and that the non Welsh speaking employees have just as many and more workplace skills, improving the experience tourists have here? Go back to your hole jac. Moron.

Colin
Guest

Welsh and prouder mate!

Why do they want to come to a Wales that is essentially England when there are no Welsh employed in their own land

Good word “Moron” I like that!

dafis
Guest

Moron = Carrots in Welsh ! Hyfryd iawn, eat more of them and perhaps you will develop the insight that will enable you to understand and indeed help rectify the damage caused by the unbalanced nature of much of the tourist/second-home sector.

welshnotbritish
Guest

We visited Greenwood back in July when we were staying in Bangor. There were quite a few local kids working there and a fair few of them were speaking to each other in Welsh. Two of the guys by the weird trampoline thing were having a good chat about the Welsh Premier league.

The park itself had a fatality not so long ago and there were a few issues there that I found questionable. The main one was on the roller coaster where random kids from a nursery were being paired up with random kids from a primary school in order to circumvent the rule where kids under a certain height cannot ride alone.

If I have my little one on a ride with me I’ll hold on to them, if a kid is on a ride with a stranger they are not going to do this.

The park itself was pleasant enough and of a similar level to what Oakwood was when it first opened but it has very little scope for expansion because the rides simply do not have a quick enough throughput to minimise queues.

Gwyneth Mason
Guest

Cymru am Byth! Fight for Wales remaining Welsh! I live in Oklahoma and am proud of my Welsh heritage.

Reuben Longworth
Guest

So how do you propose to finance a country with a struggling rural economy and an industrial base that’s a museum piece ,who do you think services all these people who visit, I suppose they are all English? the local plumbers, builders ,electricians ,cleaners, bar staff etc etc
So let’s create a scenario, all the English fuck off back home and all the Welsh who couldn’t be arsed to make a go of it in their own country you can ask them to to come back to build you nationalist idll !
Just think of it you can all start going to chapel again (once you’ve converted them back from holiday homes) write endless cynghanedd about harddwch cymru and laments about how you haven’t got a pot to piss in !
You keep voting for a load of pocket lining corrupted councillors a m’s and mp’s, all devolution will achieve is creating an even more deprived nation , one of the lowest paid areas ,the only answer is for the working class to stick together we are all being fucked over ,and you and the other nationalists on this sorry lump of rock off coast of Europe , you play right into their hands, the tories realised that the Scottish vote would fuck over new labour if they dangled the devo carrot !
You’ll all be stuffed like a cheap frozen chicken from tesco !

dafis
Guest

it appears that your repeat prescription is due up old son !

Shape up or you’ll explode in a shower of bile all over your screen.

Albert Hill
Guest

The thing is Jac so many of us Welsh have swallowed the PC nonsense about open borders and melting pots. The truth is employers want free movement of Labour because they want cheap Labour.

May is right when she speaks about social cohesion and a failure to put in place the infrastructure necessary to cope with an influx of people. Of course she doesn’t mean any of it, she’s just angling for support in the forthcoming Tory leadership contest. Like all the elite the top Tories don’t give a damn about nations, even their own.

Free movement deprives the south of talents who really should be building up their own countries but our liberals never think of that. They just like to feel good about themselves by supporting something that has no iimmediate negative effect on their own lives.

Because so many Welsh have swallowed this easy liberalism – it’s a form of imperialism really – we’ve no defence when it comes to our own country. We’re so happy throwing brickbats at May or LePen or the Hungarians that we are complicit in the destruction of our own communities and nation.

Tracey
Guest

Regarding Coed y Brenin. I was there on Saturday with my bi-lingual cycle club. We can all see things that we want to see and we are all entitled to our own opinion.But never forget that speaking welsh doesn’t make you welsh like speaking English doesn’t make you English.

Being part of a community and ensuring it continues on is in my opinion the way forward

Anonymous
Guest

Wow you really know how to make my blood boil. you pose questions that present themselves as pseudo facts because either you are to lazy to check facts or because the real facts would not back up your arguments. How can a new surf facility be a white elephant and waste of money just because it has teething problems– a stupid thoughtless and inflamatory assertion
you throw in the usual fire starting lines about local people not being able to afford houses because of incomers—the reason houses come up fior sale is because local people want to move to England or other countries to make more money—-property prices in most parts of Wales are far cheaper than elsewhere in the uk— not everyone can afford to buy a house it is only thatcherite thinking that demands that every person should mortgage themselves to levels where they cant afford to do anything other rhan work themselves into the ground to fulfill a so called dream that for many is a nightmare
You complain about investment into tourism then complain about the number of tourists (and money) that such investment generates.
Clearly you are a glass half empty individual, you avoid any positives that might undermine your constant griping, you lash out at anyone successful. .Why do you bother to invite comment –you have your opinion, you do not intend to be persuaded or convinced otherwise. The people you criticise are working hard, being successful, creating jobs, making money– and spending it in Wales and elswhere because we are now a world economy. Try looking forward from your luddite stronghold and if you really hate Wales being a successful international country go live somewhere else

Colin
Guest

Anonymous, have you been eating Jac’s puff balls? Shame on you Jac for selling those to a halfwit! There can be no other explanation for such drivel

dafis
Guest

” teething problems” – when a fundemental component of the effective operation of the plant goes down so easily, come off it, that’s just lack of bloody common sense and awareness of risk. This was not a 2 bit investment but a multi million programme gleefully hailed by our Assembly Government as a “next big thing”, so not out of order to question its basic planning given its short history to date.

The Thatcherite thinking you quote is more likely to be the cause of the problems described in these columns. It starts with the wilful destruction of “old ” industries, the cynical use of a dole and benefits system to pacify the immediate reaction, and then it continued through absence of any real strategic vision on how to re-industrialise and modernise in a systematic way. Hundreds of millions have now been spent ( they say invested ! ) into channels such as the 3rd sector which have enriched assorted grant grabbers and their circles of contacts but the trickle down has been just that, a mediocre payback for those communities that paid for it with their jobs.

Without wishing to defend Jac ( as he’s well able to do that for himself !) I can identify easily with so much of his stance because we have a community of well placed ( and well paid ) people here in Wales who do not appear to be able to get beyond the “initiative” stage with anything. Their track record to date suggests that they are either unable or disinclined to critically appraise major investment proposals, and once an investment is approved they seem alien to the concept of post investment monitoring. Is it a lack of real world experience that accounts for this ? or is it a cynical attitude based on “we have been seen to be doing something so the spend is justified” ?

To change this is a major up hill challenge and it will need not just regime change down the Bay, although replacing Labour would at least give someone else a crack at the challenge. However the complacency identified long ago by Jac and others will remain a problem. The Tories would probably be even more deferential to anyone from the other side of Clawdd Offa claiming expertise in anything ( even contract cleaners seem to be able to rip this lot off ! ) As for Plaid, well their platform of “out lefting” Labour has struck the rocks with Corbyncomics in vogue in the smart salons of the nouveau intellectual talents, and the Lib Dems are going going ……….

So Mr/Mrs Anonymous, you may well prefer to sit in your armchair and take the piss out of our comments. At least you do us a service in that it reaffirms what we already know about the arrogant supremacist mindset of our “masters”. Just remember that we are not inclined to believe the bullshit you retch over us even though it’s firmly embedded in your mind that you do it for our benefit.

violet
Guest

I’m just trying to clarify whether the equation of what Jac talks about – too much English signage/tourism/home owners… with any more global immigration problems the whole of UK is desperately trying to back out of. I consider myself to be a young global citizen in this day and age, a human being. I think Welsh culture has the right to be in Wales (duh), England, Scotland, Ireland – Celtic ancestry – and it has the ‘right’ to go to Hungary, Patagonia, Japan if those that do so are respectful and not corrupt/money grabbing/fund grabbing in a way that is rather dubious and not community grass roots based. Is this not similar to the issues UK faces with the refugees – and other economic migrants trying to make a living … Some English people I know have ben dispossessed of their homes having lost their jobs …having a summer job in Wales/Scotland is their only quick enough option … If you wanted to say – and many do “those Poles are taking our jobs …bloody hard workers…”
If you lived in Kent and experiencing the refugee crisis … would you be going – Go Away – go back home you don’t speak our language, some of you refuse to speak our language and accept our customs? Go back to your own culture…. Migration has been happening for many years beyond our incarnation … same old problems back in 200BC I should think … territorial, culture fear. I think Welsh culture does a fine job sticking up for itself through art, poetry, honouring its stories, whether religious, political or poetic; evenings down the pub having a good shout, panad, rugby – it has a huge identity, which is more than the English do. …. ok snuff said…. I do hear your cry Jac but I find you rather aggressive but I suspect that under that coat and hat you are pussy cat with a tendency to protect what you like. All You Need Is Love/Y cyfan sydd ei angen yw cariad

YBarddCwsc
Guest

I think I am very happy to defend Coed Y Brenin.

I have been there on a number of occasions, and always found it very enjoyable. I don’t know the fraction of Welsh visiting or employed at Coed Y Brenin (but then nor do you, Jac). I do know — for example — that the cafe/restaurant claims to sources only local ingredients and products. I do know that hotels & bed and breakfasts & restaurants in Dolgellau do benefit from the influx of visitors to Coed Y Brine.

“Conspicuous consumption was everywhere, from the fancy motors with the bicycle racks on the back to the £200 shades. But that wasn’t the only reason I felt a little uncomfortable, for it soon dawned on me that our family group might be the only Welsh people there . . . in the heart of Meirionnydd.”

I might have been there and speaking English. I am not sure that I find you argument about being “the only Welsh people there” very strong as it stands. Still, I would have thought prosperous visitors to South Gwynedd are very desirable.

Gwynedd is too dependent on tourism, & there are some obvious turkeys that should not have been given Government funding (like Snowdonia Surf).

But, seriously, Coed Y Brenin does not seem to be one to me. It looks successful and prosperous and it brings in money to a not very well-resourced and underdeveloped part of South Gwynedd. It exploits the beautiful countryside and is extremely good it what it does. I would have thought it was worth celebrating.

Out of interest, what would you like to see developed in South Gwynedd? Whilst you have a good point regarding dairy farming in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, I am not at all clear what industry could be developed in South Gwynedd.

Both the terrain and the planning restrictions due to the National Park limit what can be done.

Brychan
Guest

I’m not sure your analysis is correct, Y Bardd, about high-end. Correct if me if I’m wrong, but the English royals turn up at Coed y Brenin to dish out duke of Edinburgh awards to poor teenagers from English cities before jetting off to holidays in St Moritz. Also, the national mountain bike centre is actually at Afan Argoed and Glyncorrwg. When public money is invested at Coed y Brenin it subsidises English day trippers from the West Midlands. Welsh Government diverting cash from Glyncorrwg. It’s taking from a facility that caters from poor Welsh people in the valleys of South Wales and hands subsidies to Brummies. I also think your wrong about Dolgellau. Last time I spent time there was at Sesiwn Fawr which struggles to get public funding. I dined on a Welsh lamb at the barbie, and copious amounts of Cwrw Mel. I did, however, see cars bedecked in bikes in the car park at the Little Chef, presumably munching on burgers and chips on their drive home to Warrington.

YBarddCwsc
Guest

I am not sure your analysis is correct about Coed Y Brenin — but to be honest, we are all basing our arguments on perceptions rather than data.

I’d be interested to know how much public money is used to subsidise Coed Y Brenin. I have hired mountain bikes at Coed Y Brenin, and they are certainly not cheap. I would hope the outfit is mostly self-financing, although I don’t object to a modest subsidy as I think it is bringing money into the area. The car park at Coed Y Brenin in the Summer is often overflowing, so it should be making money.

I am often in Dolgellau, and know some of the hoteliers and restaurant-owners. So, again, I think I am right, but again have no data. I agree about Sesiwn Fawr.

But, I think to revitalise Dolgellau, investment in Coed Y Brenin and also Yr Ysgwrn , the home of Hedd Wyn, are crucial.

I have never, ever seen the Dolgellau Little Chef car park even half full !!! It has always looked a sad and desperate place to me.

Rob
Guest
Colin
Guest

This is what Red Flag was referring to with his comment about the developer trying to persuade the local schools to drop Cwricwlwm Cymreig in Holyhead by stating it attracted the wrong sort of buyers (if I remember correctly) i.e. Welsh not invited!

dafydd
Guest

I live in Gwynedd, a proud land with a rich cultural heritage, a stronghold of Welsh identity and one of the most scenic areas in these islands. Living here does come at a cost though. House prices are vastly higher in relation to average wage because of the second home issue and the area can literally be swamped with predominantly English tourists day after day doing the regular run along the coast road to the hundreds of caravan parks now marring our coast. Life here does often feel like living within the walls of a large theme park and we, the native inabitants are the poor buggers trapped within it in an economic void. The situation we find ourselves in, fighting to save our and our children’s identity, language and integrity as a people under the sheer weight of anglocentric policy is what we have been dealt following the collapse of our heavy industry. Under Westminsters watch no high tech industry, finance or science based industries established themselves in NW Wales despite it being only a short hop from Chester. Welsh government likewise has let this area down! Tourism is often hailed as the only option, but why? Why are the well payed jobs east of the dyke? Why should my child be pitifully grateful to work in Abersoch on minimum wage serving up gourmet food to the supercar Chesire elite and to go ‘home’ after a hard day’s work in a clapped out car to a clapped out static caravan in a parents back garden! Tourism is not the answer, unless you are happy to remain poor and subservient, ultimately without pride, identity or a realistic future!

YBarddCwsc
Guest

“Under Westminsters watch no high tech industry, finance or science based industries established themselves in NW Wales despite it being only a short hop from Chester.”

Let’s suppose Gwynedd was booming. Let’s suppose there is a vigorous high tech industry, finance industry and large pharma companies in and around Bangor.

Those companies would hire internationally (or at least within the EU) and they would primarily hire graduates. They would not, by and large, hire the indigenous population (except as cleaners and in the canteen). This would drive immigration into Gwynedd from England, the rest of the EU and elsewhere. These incomers will speak the international language of finance or science, English.

There is a very clear correlation between economic prosperity and ethnic mixing in the twenty-first century world. This rule applies to London as much as it does to Bangor.

It is a vicious circle. If you make Gwynedd more prosperous with highly desirable jobs, you will encourage predominantly English-speaking incomers. And this will dilute its Welshness much more quickly than tourism does.

Sad but true. I don’t know how to solve the problem.

risiart ap dafydd ap cymru ap basdad
Guest
risiart ap dafydd ap cymru ap basdad

You’re trying to say someone is less welsh just because they don’t have a strong local accent. I know many friends who have worked in the greenwood centre who have lived in wales all their lives, and have gone to welsh school all their lives and can speak welsh fluently, so don’t be too quick to judge. Its a bit offensive to second-language welsh speakers who are native and have lived here since they were born. Surely accents shouldn’t really come into play too much..

M
Guest

IF the Welsh government passed a law that ALL primary and secondary schools in Wales were ALL taught through the medium of Welsh . This could/might make some “immigrant” families have second thoughts about moving here.

Irene Laird
Guest

Jac – could I please have your contact details or are you too much of a coward? I’m Mrs Laird (not Laird thank you) and I was just about to thank you for revealing that the Welsh Probation Service is actually a private limited company. In answer to your rants: Firstly, I am innocent of all charges (not that you would care about that). Secondly, my business has received NO grants; all my husband and I have done is worked day and night for 12 years to promote Wales (a country we both love) and have contributed greatly to the Welsh economy (guesthouses, hotels, pubs, restaurants, retailers, attractions) as well as promoting what we still believe to be the most beautiful part of the UNITED KINGDOM. Why would Welsh visitors want to visit their own country? For what its worth we don’t have hardly ever other UK visitors as quite honestly they can get in the car and do it themselves. As for client confidentiality, you should know that we cannot put people’s names and addresses, although most would not have any objection. Unlike a lot of other people (who have received grants from both Conwy and Gwynedd Councils – changing their allegiances to get the money) we run our business properly and ethically. It is very sad to be treated as an enemy in your own country – and it is also my country whether you like it or not. Why not take the plunge and get independence like Ireland did nearly a hundred years ago? I visited there recently and although the weather and the scenery are not consistently as beautiful as Wales, they have the craic which you clearly do not! Please reveal your name or shut up about matters you just do not understand.

Colin
Guest

Jacothenorth, man of mystery! Who is that man who hides beneath that hat and coat? Never will his identity be revealed to those who can’t be bothered to even read as far as the last post (and we’re not talking yanks with bugles here)

Irene luv, you say it’s your country too, where where you born and where did you grow up? did you grow up? Alas I never did but that’s another story. What was this “C” word you’re rumoured to have called this Welsh woman, did it end with a ‘w’ or a ‘t’? So many questions, just being friendly you understand, got to keep Parry of Llais y Sais sweet

Never had a night out in Cofi dre? Not craic obviously being Wales but plenty of hwyl

Brychan
Guest

Mrs Irene Laid, you say you are innocent of all charges. This is a lie. You were convicted of racially-aggravated common assault related to an incident in December 2014, and racially-aggravated threatening behaviour for a second incident in February 2015. You were found guilty before the district Judge and during the sentencing he stated that there was ‘gratuitous degradation’. A probation officer also give evidence that ‘there was no recognition such behaviour was inappropriate and no element of remorse’. You received a 60 day suspended jail term for the racially-aggravated assault, plus a £500 fine for the racially-aggravated threatening behaviour and was also ordered to pay £1,000 compensation to the victim for her trauma.You were also ordered to pay an additional £930 costs.

Elwyn Jenkins
Guest

Irene Laird is an arrogant, obnoxious arse. That is a personal opinion.
When she says she “I am innocent of all charges “,
Irene Laird is a liar. That is a fact.

Hefin Wyn
Guest

A time for reflection perhaps:

“I became aware that I needed to think in a kingdom way about issues that touch the local community. We want to see a healing of relationships between English-speaking and Welsh-speaking people. We want to be a house of prayer where there is healing and reconciliation. For me as a first language English-speaking person, I want it to be clear that I bless, support, stand with and champion the Welsh-speaking community within Wales. I’m not here to lord it over them or tell them what to do, but to bless them and support them. It’s easy to forget that Wales is a nation with its own history and its own culture that is quite different from the English culture. English has been used as the language of power and domination, and I want to disassociate myself from that. In kingdom terms, we are here as servants.”

Ray Godwin, Ffald-y-Brenin Retreat Centre, Gwaun Valley.

Carnabwth
Guest
Colin
Guest

No, Wales is a nation in its own right, it’s own language, history the whole works. I’m all for a bilingual Wales or more accurately Cymru and like it or lump it we’re stuck with it but place names should be in Cymraeg only, no English alternative

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/assembly-members-call-historic-welsh-10231376#ICID=sharebar_twitter

Brychan
Guest

One of the most amusing ‘tour guides’ I have experienced was when I tagged along with a group of assorted Japanese and Americans on an open top tour bus around London. The ‘guide’ on the microphone came out with such gems as ‘Blackfriars where beefeaters had their slaves cook them breakfast’ and ‘The Royal Mews where the Queen keeps her cats”. Since then, London has introduced the ‘Blue Badge’ qualification for tour guides, and it’s very difficult for charlatans, criminals and racists, like Mrs Laird (see above), to set up. A rouge operation can’t to get public indemnity insurance without being qualified. No such licensing or qualification is required in Wales although the ‘Wales Official Tourist Guides Association’ has a registration process, from which Mrs Laird is banned. Isn’t it time that the WOTGA be given statutory registration like most other countries in Europe? Mrs Laid wouldn’t be allowed a taxi license due to her criminal record, so why is she still allowed to fleece tourists in her dodgy people carriers?

Rob Laird
Guest

Your comments are defamatory, as are those of Mr Jones, the originator of this site. Welsh Dragon Tours operates professionally on every level within the law, and the welfare of clients is our priority, as is the integrity of information provided to them prior to and throughout their time spent with us. Welsh Dragon Tours carries full, appropriate insurance and operates comfortable and regularly maintained transport. Any individual or organization feeling that they have justifiable cause to query these arrangements, or to lodge a complaint should identify themselves to us at the address provided on our website, and we will do our utmost to cooperate and offer assistance.

Brychan
Guest

Private hire insurance and an MOT doesn’t mean professional tour guide. Surely, a responsible tour guide operator would welcome the suggestion of a statutory registration process and, if as you say, Welsh Dragon Tours is a responsible tour operator you would jump at the chance of public registration and scrutiny. You are no doubt aware that many of the international travel bureaus’ crave the security of purchasing tailored product from a regulated environment. Indeed, many of them only contract via a professional membership body with accredited guides. A person convicted of a racially aggravated criminal offence would not qualify. A ‘badge’ scheme with statutory remit would certainly boost the international visitor footprint to Wales, and exclude any rouges. Unfortunately, Visit Wales concentrates on domestic low-spend visitors. With this in mind, I have decided to forward my suggestion to my AM, and she has already made note your responses and comments so far on this blog. It will no doubt assist as evidence for formulating policy. I beg the indulgence of Jac to allow further comments from the Lairds as it may allow them an opportunity to express their ‘unreserved apology’ and for this ‘isolated incident’, comments which were absent in the courtroom in Caernarfon, and so far on these blog comments.

Anonymous
Guest

It’s all here, Mrs Laird
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3154500/Foul-mouthed-English-tourist-guide-called-woman-Welsh-c-handed-suspended-jail-sentence-500-fine.html

Incidentally, the imputation of cowardice to Mr Jones is risible, given that he isn’t exactly known for being shy and retiring, and must be one of the most visible bloggers in Wales.

The larger question is what we’re doing in Wales, playing host to people who think we’re scum, and crap on our culture, language and identity/ies.

At least the DP reports it. It didn’t make it into the WM, that I know of. But this is part of the WM’s ‘No new for Gogs’ policy.

dafis
Guest

In last week’s news –

https://www.partyof.wales/news/2015/10/08/plaid-cymru-to-abolish-social-care-charges/
Plaid Cymru to abolish social care charges

This will bring in an assortment of ageing Anglos plus a whole load of other EU freebie hunters ! or will they all have to pay £30k a year in tax and speak fluent Welsh to qualify ? Doesn’t anyone critically appraise a policy proposal before it goes public ? Admirable sentiment but so full of holes that unintended consequences will swamp well meaning intentions.

Colin
Guest

I think this would be a brilliant idea. My mother is quite old now and has dementia, we are trying to keep her at home with us but it would be handy if we could get some free daytime care when she needs it.

But you are right though, it will attract a whole range of free loaders. A nice sentiment but it’s actually quite alarming when you think of the consequences. Even rolling it out in Scotland and England while reducing the load on us would still attract all and sundry from the EU and beyond. I think the reality is that if Plaid need to gain a majority hand in the Senedd to pass this then there is no chance this will come to pass unless they pull their socks up but with policies like that being aired?

Colin
Guest

A gem here

In my place of work, we had a young (English) lad come in from Bangor university to do a bit of work experience with us. Nice lad and bloody good at what he did, he was due to come back to us yesterday but unfortunately something happened at home and he has had to drop this year and return. My boss had committed Emlyn (the lad) to do some work for his customers and is in a bit of a panic to find a replacement. So I was asked to place some adverts to find the replacement which I have done.

Now this is where it gets interesting. A HR person walks into my office just after this with a young local Cofi lad who works on the shop floor in our factory. He tells me that this lad works a 4 day week for us because he goes to college on day release to learn a similar skill to what we are looking for. So I show him what is needed immediately and he confirms he could do the job; he also tells me that his farther does the same job professionally and would be able to support him technically. So I’m thinking to myself this is ideal and ask the HR guy to go and tell the boss. So he does……. The response was “Stop right there, what course is he on? I think we can find a pole to do the job” Which no doubt means there’s someone’s uncle on a plane from Poland as we speak with no idea what he’s going to be doing and will have to be put on a course to learn how to do it. Sickening!

Anonymous
Guest

My word, where to start? I don’t think you will see any reason to any arguement, nor balance or reality just blind prejudice. It seems your biggest whine is that tourism is being driven by English hands, business is in English hands and apparently only the English can afford a nice car and bicycle and only the English compete on Welsh soil (well only the English feature in the results). Instead of belittleing all these abhorations perhaps a little ripple of applause? Thank you English for providing tourist treats and thank you cyclists for traveling to our beautiful country.
Perhaps the question, to which I certainly have no answer is; where are all the Welsh? Have the Welsh no longer got the fortitude and determination to succeed in a business on their own turf, to build, create and strive for success of their own? How very dare you critiscise anyone regardless of nationality or geographic location of getting off their arse and having a go. How dare you belittle the visitor figures of the farm you visited, that is some bodies livelihood and probably a meagre one but one they believe in. How dare you insinuate that they are part of some corrupt English sub culture raping the grant system.
Instead of whingeing and whineing at the number of English and lack of Welsh in tourist Wales open your eyes and ears to the number of tourists from far and wide, the Canadians, Americans, Australians, Japanese and yes English that were in the little cafe at Lake Vyrnwy are testament to a healthy Wales. Regardless of the Nationality of the proprieter and the staff working on the Sunday after Boxing Day, thank them because without them and others in service industry these tourists may not come back. And that sir, regardless of your idiotic stance would be criminal.

Mabon
Guest

Outward Bound Centre, Aberdyfi,2012: (I was 16 at the time) Every instructor we came across was an incomer, none of whom had learnt Welsh. One, a lady who we spent most time with, said there was too much Welsh in education, and that it made people insular. Another instructor (in Barmouth) from London, said his daughter had learnt Welsh but chose not to speak it because it was ‘difficult.’ The only Welsh staff we came across was the room inspector who had a Gwynedd Accent. There was a list of Welsh words on the wall which we were encouraged to learn for a quiz at the end. Only I bothered to learn any and the Quiz never happened.

Devil’s Bridge, May 2015: Now a student in Aberystwyth (from London) and my cousin and his German Wife are visiting me at Uni. We go on the Rheidol Valley railway line to Devil’s Bridge. At the ticket kiosk for the attraction, I practice my Welsh by saying Diolch yn Fawr. In the thickest cockney accent, he says ‘What did you call me?’ My cousing cracks up for about 5 minutes and his german wife tells me about how when she was in a restaurant in Berlin and tried to speak German, the waitress turned out to be English and spoke not a word.

Blaenau Ffestiniog, Easter 2015: Visited the tourism complex that includes the bounce below, the zip wires and the tour of the mines, which I believe has been developed due to public sector funding. I, 19 at the time, despite being English, had already become intensely interested in the Welsh Language, and had read Cymuned’s report on colonisation, although my mum and the family friend (who is an incomer who lives outside Bangor) are only half aware of my interest in the language. Naturally, I was very interested to see whether the staff were local and welsh speaking or whether they were all incomers. Findings: The tour-guide who took us underground was (by his accent) a Geordie. The Catering staff did seem to be local, as did the slate processing staff at the workshop. Receptionists/Desk advisors: Unsure. The zip-wire staff all seemed to be from Birmingham.

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