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 ♦

 

  127 Responses to “Gwynedd LDP, and Wider Considerations”

  1.  

    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.

    •  

      I share your feelings on the Centre for Alternative Technology. I believe I have previously described those connected with it as a bunch of self-righteous racists with their hands permanently out for Welsh public funding. (If I haven’t used that exact description then I’m saying it now.)

      The place has employed few Welsh people in its 25+ years of existence but has always had unstinting support from Plaid Cymru, especially from Cynog Dafis and Dafydd Elis Thomas.

      What more do you need to know about where Plaid Cymru has gone wrong in recent decades?

    •  

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

      •  

        Fundamentally, it’s an imposition. A very expensive imposition.

        •  

          In what way do you deem it “an imposition”? An odd statement like that can’t just be thrown in there and left sitting on the table with no explanation.
          Would you rather no-one was working on alternative technology matters?

          •  

            The issue is not “alternative technology matters” per se.

            I would admire CAT if it was a self-funding Welsh venture. I would tolerate CAT if it was a publicly-funded Welsh venture.

            A publicly-funded English venture in Wales is something I shall never support.

            •  

              So:
              1. Where does the funding come from?
              2. Why does it matter where the funding comes from?

              •  

                A great deal of the funding received by CAT has come from the ‘Welsh’ Government and other parts of the Welsh public purse.

                It matters because in a poor country like Wales we don’t have money to waste on a bunch of self-righteous, hectoring, bigoted, virtue-signalling English hippy hobbyist hypocrites.

                •  

                  There you go. Funding in the main from the Welsh Assembly and “other parts of the Welsh public purse”. I rest my case. I expect the majority of people involved in CAT are British and I don’t expect you have any breakdown of figures between Welsh British and English British (or come to think of it Scottish British etc etc). Not that it matters as to what part of Britain people with the relevant skillset (a good bit more technical than you or I have) comes from. I further rest my case.
                  The people with the necessary skills are the people with the necessary skills – even if they aren’t from Britain at all.

                  •  

                    Do you understand how devolution works? Wales needs every penny of the block grant for essential services, it should not waste a penny on pointless fripperies like CAT, no matter how ‘British’ those working there are.

                  •  

                    That’s the problem, they are British, not Welsh. They have no respect for Wales, or the Welsh, and don’t even make token efforts on the Welsh language.

                    All the skills sets demonstrated there existed in Wales long before that parasitic organisation came to teach us how to live. All it is now is a glorified tourist attraction, and we need those like we need a hole in the head.

      •  

        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!

        •  

          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.

          •  

            So you’re another who thinks – or promotes the idiocy – that Welsh speakers are unable to speak English, and that should be an excuse to not employ them. I think you’ve given yourself away now.

            In the area we’re talking about, before parasites like CAT started arriving, and attracting hippies, good-lifers and other undesirables, the Corris area was almost entirely Welsh speaking. I’ve known the area for decades, socialised there many times, slept there more than once, and witnessed the changes.

            Now go away, and spout your bigotry somewhere else. Understand!

            •  

              It’s still more than 50% Welsh speaking, as I recently found out as I needed to do some basic research into the profile of some of the people under discussion. Which to my mind makes it not only essential that organisations such as CAT need to be fully bilingual, but also need to require all their staff to be Welsh speaking.

              I’d much prefer it if all signage etc, in this area of Wales was Welsh only, with the possible exception of where ambiguity might cause accidents through misunderstanding. Road signs etc, are easy to understand, no matter what language they are in, and any sign that is long, or difficult to understand, (and won’t be a road sign, as all those are deliberately kept simple) could be translated by one of the friendly and willing locals, who, much as most Norwegians, also speak English. Failing this, there is an app on your phone that will do it. Simples. WE can now have a Wales where the psychological emphasis distinctly favours Welsh, an isn’t undermined by bilingualism.

              •  

                If there were Welsh signage only then I would be waiting with interest for the first person to have an accident (precisely because of not being able to read the signs) and then seeking compensation from the relevant public authority for having caused that accident.

            •  

              I suggest you refrain from misinterpreting what I say. I am perfectly well aware that the vast majority (darn nearly all Welsh) speak English perfectly well. In the years I’ve been living here I have only come across one person that I think probably didnt. Bigotry? I suggest you read some of your own posts. Most of your own posts in fact.

          •  

            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.

          •  

            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.

            •  

              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.

              •  

                Stop pretending that you speak for “most Welsh people”. It’s pretty fucking obvious who you speak for. You are the voice of England in Wales.

  2.  

    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.

    •  

      1/ I’m not talking about a Chester commuter belt, Chester is no bigger than Wrecsam; what I’m saying is that the demand will come from the two conurbations and it will be directed west to protect Chester and Cheshire.

      2/ If you’re saying that not building these houses would drive away our youth I can only ask how building houses they can’t afford will keep them here? Maybe you need to explain this one.

      The wider point you seem to be making in para 5 . . . again, I’m not saying the demand comes from Cheshire. But let’s take your figures on those prepared to move outside their region. We are dealing with a population of some 6 million in the Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire area. Let’s say 2 million households. If 20% are prepared to move outside the region that means 400,000 homes. If just 30% of the 20% prepared to move out of the Gtr Manchester/Merseyside/Cheshire region come to northern Wales that means 120,000 homes. And there will be others moving from other parts of England

      Of course, this doesn’t take into account those who have little choice when it comes to moving, those who are not buying property. I’m referring now to the riff-raff that ends up in Rhyl and other towns, and all the others housed by private landlords and social housing providers. These add to the tally, and the effect on the Welsh language.

      “Show me evidence that internal migration in the UK is motivated by house prices” you write in the final paragraph, knowing as well as I that there are numerous studies and surveys showing that many thousands have moved out of London in recent years. Here’s one article saying it. There are plenty more.

      •  

        The figure of 20% that I quoted isn’t 20% of the total population – it is 20% of those who decide to move home. So, a much smaller figure than the 2m you cite.

        The article you link to is from a poor-quality free newspaper. I want to see rigorous pieces of original research, not the half-baked opinions of a journalist.

        •  

          Try this from the Guardian quoting the ONS. Here’s another, earlier piece, piece from the Daily Mail. Here’s another piece, suggesting a knock-on effect.

          The internet is full of pieces telling of people moving out of London, as far as Leeds, or even further, due to London property prices. You know that’s the case, how much longer can you pretend it’s not true?

        •  

          How about this more recent one in the FT stating,’House prices drive London exodus as buyers seek better value’.
          https://www.ft.com/content/f3e54a3e-6e3c-11e7-b9c7-15af748b60d0?mhq5j=e1

          or this from the Telegraph,
          ‘UK faces downsizing boom with almost half of Britain’s pensioners looking to move’.
          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/08/02/uk-faces-downsizing-exodus-almost-half-britains-pensioners-looking/

          There are numerous articles and evidence of the migration of the Babyboom pensioners and the cash rich, younger generation, that have made rich through the unregulated speculation in the housing market over the decades. However, it’s not necessary to read about this phenomena in articles, we can see and hear the evidence all around us and as mentioned earlier, the cost of housing in Wales has risen to a rate way beyond the average local earnings. Turning a blind eye, pretending it’s not happening, burying one’s head in the sand, is delaying what needs to be done now, to stop the inevitable destruction of Welsh communities.

          •  

            I don’t know Dyfrig Jones, but I’m told he’s on our side, so I can’t understand why he’s making arguments I’d expect to hear from Guto Bebb or David Jones, or Alun Cairns.

            •  

              I do. He’s a kn*b. Liberal luvvie student type and one of the reasons Plaid has peaked – and I’m a member.

        •  

          Nothing to see here, Dyfrig, I’m worried about what this article says – is there anyone else in Gwynedd?
          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/wales/10878554/Welsh-could-become-a-minority-in-Wales-as-English-set-sights-west.html

          •  

            Waiting for you to change your mind Dyfrig.

          •  

            FYI Tal Mac and anyone who reads the Evening Post, a letter of mine is printed in today’s edition referencing the Telegraph article and the Welsh minority point, the huge numbers of English people who have migrated here and calling for a debate now on the demand for a Welsh Independence referendum.

          •  

            I don’t think Dyfrig’s engaging with us any more.

          •  

            Tal Mac – I know that the loss of rural GPs and the decline in the number of those who speak Welsh is an important issue, but some bloody awful doctors are at present sheltering under that particular umbrella. The surgery featured in the link that you provide here was not so long ago found guilty at an employment tribunal of the bullying and unfair dismissal of a member of their staff. Among many other things, they had tried to frame her for embezzling funds. It seems that the main problem was one of the GPs who was utterly vile to both patients and staff and rather than confront him about his dreadful conduct the rest of the GPs in the surgery colluded with him.

            Another surgery whom the local Plaid representatives are mourning the closure of is a surgery in Penygroes. The GP there is a lethal bastard, who hung up on me when he was supposedly providing the out of hours on call service – I had a life threatening condition but I’d complained about one of his mates a few months previously. I was not his only victim – I heard a number of first hand accounts of this man’s vindictive neglect of certain patients. Penygroes is not losing anything by the closure of that practice.

      •  

        (I’m not at my desk, but I think I’m right to say that some 40% of the population is likely to move house in the next 15 years. So the projected number of internal emigrants from the Greater Manchester area would be 20% of 40%. And this number would be emigrating to all parts of the UK ).

        •  

          If they’re still working in Manchester or Merseyside then the options are limited. Moving south means higher prices. There are restrictions in the Lake District and the Peak District. But the A55 Corridor is encouraging them, building houses for them – ‘Mountains and coast!

          •  

            Jac and Dyfrig – a few comments re your conversation but also a few questions that I’m wondering if either of you can answer.

            I have been reading about the row regarding the Gwynedd and Mon houses, but I’ve been busy blogging and researching other matters, so please forgive my relative ignorance.

            Two of the people who appeared in the Daily Post speaking out against the proposed houses were Jan Morris and Angharad Pryce, two financially secure writers who have somewhere to live themselves. I maintain that people do need houses but they need houses which are genuinely affordable, not ‘affordable’ houses costing over £150k. I wasn’t sure exactly how affordable the proposed Gwynedd and Mon houses were planned to be.

            Jac, you are quite right that Gwynedd and Mon are being advertised in England as desirable locations ‘by the mountains and the sea’. Furthermore I noticed before I left north west Wales a couple of years ago just how many upmarket England-based estate agents had started flogging property in the area. For years when I lived in Gwynedd those estate agents had no presence in the area at all. Another thing that I noticed was the expansion of the second homers at Abersoch syndrome – the Abersoch crowd from Cheshire did used to confine themselves to buying houses around Abersoch, but they seem to be spreading their wings further and further afield now, which will just mean that local people will be priced out in even more locations. I must bring to your attention to the fact that not all those who rent are people with multiple social problems whose destiny is Rhyl – houses are now so bloody expensive, even in rural Wales, that a lot of mainstream people rent. Things are getting very difficult for them what with the increasingly ruthless conduct of letting agents and the shortage of properties for rent.

            Now – my question. Does anyone know why Bangor has over the past 15 yrs or so turned into such a SLUM? When I first went to Bangor in 1981, there were loads of perfectly OK places to live (either to rent or buy) in the town itself. Upper Bangor was lovely, a positively desirable place to live and home to many university staff. There were one or two notorious houses in a poor state of repair, but generally places like College Road and Glanrafon Hill were really nice. Upper Bangor is now dreadful, virtually entirely houses of multiple-occupation ‘managed’ by sleazy agents. Huge swathes of the rest of Bangor have gone the same way. It’s not sufficient to blame the students who are renting those properties for not looking after them, not taking their bins out etc – they are in those properties because the rent is comparatively cheap and it is their landlords who are the ones who are not repairing the buildings.

            Friends of mine landing jobs at Bangor University over the last 10 years have not even considered living in the town – because there is so little left which is inhabitable. They wanted to live in Bangor, because it would have been near to their workplace and near to schools for their children, but there just weren’t decent properties there for them. They weren’t looking for posh residence, just normal family homes…

            What on earth happened? Was it a problem with the town council or someone else? As more expensive developments are planned on the outskirts of Bangor and places like Bryn Adda in Penrhosgarnedd have been built to house the local petit bourgeoisie with their version of ‘new money’, the main part of the town has been allowed to collapse and no-one seems able to explain why…

            •  

              I too remember Upper Bangor. I can go back to the 60s and early 70s, in those days it reminded me in some ways of the better parts of west Swansea.

              If I had to finger one cause for the decline it would be the expansion of the university beyond what the city and the area can cope with. At the 2011 Census Bangor had a population of 18,808, of whom 10,500 were students. The latest figures produced by the university claim over 11,000 students, 2,000 involved in administration and 650 teaching staff. There is no way that Bangor can cope with such a population, most of whom are just passing through and have no commitment to the place.

              I’ve just found online, Bangor University 1884 – 2009 by David Roberts, with Google Books. It tells us that in 1970 Bangor had less than a quarter of the students it has today. I think there’s your explanation, Sally. You arrived when the decline was well under way but nowhere near as bad as today.

              Bangor student numbers

              •  

                Thanks – hadn’t considered the huge student population which as you say is passing through with no commitment to the area. In terms of ruthless expansionism as well as no commitment to the area, I suspect that a major problem will have been the dreadful – now dead – Prof Fergus Lowe, described by one of my former colleagues at the university as ‘the most hated man in Bangor’. Fungus had rapidly expanded the School of Psychology using techniques such as lying, cheating, bullying and plagiarism and when the V-C took time off because his wife was terminally ill Fungus decided that he was now running the University and would run it like the School of Psychology. Fungus seriously pissed off a lot of the citizens of Bangor – he was named in angry letters to the local papers and there was litigation against him…

    •  

      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.

    •  

      “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.

      •  

        But that answer from Dyfrig was a non-sequitur anyway because I wasn’t talking about Chester – which isn’t big enough to create a serious commuter problem on the north coast – but Merseyside and Greater Manchester, and people wanting to move out of those conurbations being ‘passed on’ to save Cheshire property values.

        Having read what Dyfrig wrote on Nation.Cymru and here I think he is deliberately confusing two types of immigration. The first is the influx of young, healthy, tax-paying immigrants from continental Europe into England. The second is the commuters, the elderly, the dumped riff-raff from England into Wales.

        Having confused the two he can then pretend that Wales sees lots of the fewer while ignoring the latter, which leads to him making absurd statements about immigration to Wales being beneficial.

        This, I’m afraid, is where Plaid Cymru is at nowadays.

  3.  

    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.

    •  

      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.

    •  

      Many of these jobs already exist in Wales, partly explained by the closing of many tax offices. If you remember, as part of the package they even tried to transfer the Welsh language service from Porthmadog to Cardiff. Thankfully, the campaign against that move was successful, but other tax offices will close. What’s not known is how many staff will transfer to Cardiff.

      •  

        I can confirm this, in that the new development is designed not just as a ‘hub’ for HMRC as it moves towards even more centralisation (Wrexham’s staff are being expected to transfer to Liverpool because – for the purposes of the exercise – Wrexham isn’t counted as being in Cymru), but also to transfer all the people currently working in Tŷ Glas in Llanishen, in addition to any staff who wish/need to transfer from the other offices in the area which are closing.

    •  

      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.

      •  

        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.

        •  

          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.

      •  

        The ‘Welsh’ Government is, supposedly, fighting for Wales to have its own judicial system, and policing devolved, so what message does it send out to have the Englandandwales Ministry of Justice move to Cardiff?

  4.  

    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?

    •  

      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…

      •  

        “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

        •  

          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.

          •  

            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…

    •  

      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.

      •  

        Yes, I was amazed to hear Sian Gwenllian talk about ‘multilingual Bangor’, but it’s typical of Plaid Cymru – terrified of focusing on Welsh issues. We are at the stage where our (self-styled) national party refuses to use the words ‘England’ and ‘English’, preferring to run away and discuss global warming, Brexit, LGBT issues, the Trump presidency, or anything else that can be used to avoid dealing with the destruction of Wales.

        Plaid Cymru is so utterly useless, so totally irrelevant to the issues facing Wales, that it couldn’t do a better job for England if it was controlled by MI5. Which is why I’ve always suspected it is controlled from outside of Wales.

      •  

        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.

  5.  

    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!

    •  

      What I’ve discussed in this post has nothing to do with the ‘Welsh’ Government, they have no control over these matters.

      Though you’re right to think that it is someone’s policy to encourage people from outside Wales to move here, but it’s not an economic strategy.

      •  

        Jac you recorded in your original post “when it comes to strategic planning, the ‘Welsh ‘ Government has willingly subordinated itself to the UK Government to the detriment of Wales best interests”.

        The Welsh Government statutory guidance is explicit about requiring new homes to be built and targets are set for each local authority. This directly informs LDPs, Wrexham have struggled with this and have had LDP sent back and are having another go, Conwy (CCBC) have had to undertake a Review of LDP because they are substantially below targets and are legally vulnerable to speculative development. Other authorities maybe in similar situations?

        No political party is explicit about what Wales best interests are in the building of new houses. Wales best interests need defining and a majority support built.
        Further no political party is explicit about which people from outside Wales should be encouraged to come here. We hear about the need for doctors and skilled professionals in various fields but again no defined policy that builds majority support or consensus. Intriguingly we also hear about the shortage of skilled tradespeople in construction holding up the building of new houses!

        I want to encourage some hard thinking on the way forward.
        I am not aware whether Welsh Government or local authorities have considered the Channel Islands policies or for that matter other nations that want to reduce outward migration and enhance the native language.
        It appears what we presently have only enhances grievances.
        Though it appears surprising that so few turn out in demonstrations and protests, my feel often is that there is a resigned acceptance and certainly the majority of local councillors are voting for LDPs presumably because they judge it is in there personal best interests and the people they represent. They are not worried about re-election?

        •  

          When you think ‘Welsh’ Government think ventriloquist’s dummy, it will help you understand Wales better.

          •  

            In an early piece of ‘reportage’ you described/defined yourself as a “reactionary”. I went and reminded myself of the meaning of this description.

            “A reactionary is a person who holds political views that favour a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which they believe possessed characteristics (discipline, respect for authority, etc) that are negatively absent from the contemporary status quo of a society”.

            I am not sure which golden era of the Welsh political state of society you want to return too?

            I personally am more optimistic than you that we can find a way forward that ensures a social and economic fabric to society that is viable, maintains and enhances the language and provides the means for earning a living and a life style that people want.

            A housing market that provides for a diversity of needs is essential. I am not sure when in Wales history, housing was organised in an efficient and effective way.

            I would gently encourage to write about the previous political state of society when your and others lives or fore bearers were at a zenith? Maybe we can learn from this period of Welsh history?

    •  

      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.

  6.  

    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

    •  

      The combined population of East Cheshire and Cheshire West and Chester is 702,327. Their LDPs allow for a combined total of 58,000 new homes in the period. This may sound a lot, but remember! this is where people moving out of Merseyside and Greater Manchester want to live.

      Despite 58,000 new homes allowed for, the Golden Triangle is to be protected with extra green belt land. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-35540589

  7.  

    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…

    •  

      Is that you, Leanne?

    •  

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

    •  

      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.

    •  

      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.

    •  

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

  8.  

    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.

  9.  

    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.

    •  

      I wouldn’t just restrict it to Gwynedd and Ynys Mon, this is a problem in all parts of rural Wales. Make it a national policy and we’d avoid accusations of favouritism towards the Welsh language.

      •  

        Jac – I know this is off-topic with regards to this thread (although it is a topic re ‘housing’), but Daily Post online are reporting that charity The Wallich have just won their appeal and gained permission to house homeless people with drug problems and convictions for sex offences in Colwyn Bay. I know that you and your correspondents have been taking a big interest in the way in which Wales is acting as a receptacle for people with such problems who are being relocated from England.

        Whilst I would agree that people with these problems should be supported and efforts made to steer them towards a more productive existence, there is not the infrastructure in Colwyn Bay to do that. The Betsi Health Board is in special measures and it’s mental health services have collapsed, the charity CAIS which is receiving millions from the Welsh Gov’t to provide ‘substance abuse services’ is alleged to be employing ‘peer guides’ who are dealing drugs to the clients and recently the Post itself has reported on shootings, stabbings and even murders which have arisen as a result of the turf wars between drugs gangs in north Wales.

        I have noticed that The Wallich seems to be expanding rapidly in Wales, they are advertising for support workers all over the place. I’m not 100% sure but I think this is an organisation that began life in the north west of England. Like so many others they have presumably spotted the potential for business in Wales.

        •  

          Their website clams they began in Cardiff in 1978 with a hostel. They seem to want quite a lot for £8.29 per hour: example job advert

          •  

            Thanks for the info. You are quite right regarding how much they demand for such a low wage, but this job advert is pretty typical of one in that sector. Jobs descriptions for support workers for learning disabled and autistic adults are very similar in length and detail but the work is even more demanding. The irony is that a lot of young graduates are now doing these jobs and they really put a lot of effort in and have a genuine desire to improve the lives of the clients – their efforts go completely unrecognised.

            These poorly paid ‘support workers’ are often of far higher calibre than the ‘managers’ of these ‘services’, who are very often nurses or social workers who have left positions in the state sector under a cloud. The sector is a mess, it is one big scam and the fiddles and poor practice seems to be pretty much across the sector – I hear the same accounts from everyone who takes one of those jobs.

            •  

              I’ve heard that frequently too. I’ve also worked in that sector, (though for a local authority that had a set of policies way better than any Third Sector I’ve seen, and also paid much better wages!) and I’ve represented workers that have been singled out for victimisation and scapegoating to take the heat off incompetent managers. The complete lack of professionalism and apparent favouritism regarding staff appalled me, and I shudder to think how service users are treated by some.

              Workers really do need to think carefully, and JOIN A UNION as they will almost inevitably need the backing of a union.

          •  

            It’s pretty much a standard job description for that kind of job, but yes, the pay is totally crap for the level of responsibility.

            However, they’ll get away with paying such a low wage, as Ceredigion is hardly an area where the majority receive a decent wage. It’s also pretty insulting that it’s regarded as essential that the post holder has a driving licence and a car – which quite likely has insurance implications. Also of concern is lone working. No-one in this kind of work should be working alone. Staff are in a very vulnerable position with this kind of client group. It’s also dangerous, and puts the service users at risk should the worker on duty suddenly become unwell, or there is an emergency. It’s cost cutting at it’s worst. It’s common within the voluntary sector, as are the appalling wages, with these charities deliberately undercutting the public sector.

            Lastly, I note that the ability to speak Welsh is only desireable, and not essential – why? Or is it that it is expected that the majority of service users will be those ‘exported’ to Wales? There is, of course, local homlessness, which is increasing, and some of the hardest hit will be local people, who are more likely to be Welsg speaking. And why is it that an organisation that is in receipt of public money from the WAG not required to have a Welsh language policy? The website is in English only, surely by now it should be a deal breaker. Any organisation that doesn’t offer a fully bilingual service should have their government funding suspended until they do offer such a service. That they are seeking to employ someone in a still largely Welsh speaking area without it being a basic requirement that the postholder be Welsh speaking is a gross insult and as such, completely unacceptable.

            It also begs questions why a Cardiff based organisation is operating in Ceredigion. This has shades of the recent stitch up of Cantref by Wales & West, another Cardiff based organisation that seems to think the needs of Welsh speakers can be served by Google Translate.

            What are Plaid Cymru, the dominant party on the council doing about this? (It’s a rhetorical question, we know what they’re doing about it, sweet FA!)

            •  

              I suspect that if they added the necessity to speak Welsh to their enormous list of requirements, they simply would never be able to recruit – a lot of people doing these jobs are English students or newly qualified graduates from England. I note that one such organisation looking for support workers in Ceredigion was placing it’s cards and adverts in Aber Starbucks and Aber Arts Centre, obviously directed at students.

              You are quite right that this is one group of workers who are desperately in need of a Union, but I have never heard Union representation discussed by their employers. As with companies like McDonalds, these days those who really need a Union are usually not in one. But then at present Unions are far more likely to be representing the interests of people in public sector relatively better paid jobs (teachers, NHS sector, University sector) than people working in the low wage, casualised sector. Having said that when I worked for a London medical school, I refused to join the Union because the Union rep himself was a crooked ruthless bully. When I worked at Bangor University I resigned from UCU because once more the rep was corrupt – she was colluding with a monstrous HR director, Lyn Meadows, who was underpaying people when she could get away with it and threatening staff who were complaining about bullying and discrimination.

              •  

                It’s true that most unions aren’t exactly pro-active in recruiting outside of the public sector, and to be honest, it’s the ordinary worker who needs to campaign for union representation, not the employer, most of whom would actively discourage union membership as they might be held to account for poor pay and working conditions, not to mention dangerous operating practices, such as lone working.

                I understand what you’re saying about unions, and sadly I am at a loss to suggest a decent union. Sadly there is no union that would adequately represent Welsh speaking workers, and we really do need a general union to represent the interests of Welsh speaking workers. If anyone else is interested in setting one up, they can contact me here:

                https://sibrydionmawr.wordpress.com/about/

                Leave a message, with your contact, and I’ll get back to you – rwy’n rhugl yn y Gymraeg, felly mae groeso i chi gyfathrebu a mi trwy’r Gymraeg.

                I can’t agree with you over why they don’t recruit Welsh speaking workers. There are plenty of Welsh speaking workers available. Even in Cardiff, which is the only area where I have any personal experience, there was no problem recruiting Welsh speaking workers, and I had at least four colleagues who were Welsh speaking, and that was where there was no specific requirement to be Welsh speaking.

                The decision to recruit from amongst students is because they are cheap, ditto newly graduated students desperate for work. Perhaps if those students were required to learn Welsh in order to get work in Welsh speaking areas it might make them think twice before embarking on a university course in Wales? That may sound unfair, but I suspect that there would be a similar requirement were they to think of working their way through university in any other European country, and that is how we should look at things – all the time seeking to point out the norm, rather than the English exception. We won’t start to get the recognition, or respect we deserve until we start demanding that we, as a nation, and as Welsh speakers, start to demand that fundamental respect, both of ourselves and of others.

                •  

                  Sorry, I didn’t make myself clear – I didn’t mean to imply that it IS the responsibility of the employer to encourage Union membership. What I meant was that the conversations re Union membership just don’t exist in the sector that we’re discussing.

                  I know that there are students who choose to study in Wales who have a bad attitude to the language but we weren’t all like that! Some of us were delighted to have the opportunity to learn. By the way, an insight from an English person who has heard other English immigrants to Wales insulting the language – it is often after they’ve tried to learn Welsh and found it beyond them. They go into defence mode and then reassure themselves that it’s not worth learning anyway.

                  You are probably right regarding the reasons why the sector targets students. However I still believe that they daren’t demand very much more of applicants because the level of demand and exploitation is already so high that they’ll end up with no-one. Of course what I have noticed that makes the situation even more unacceptable is that there are plenty of people who would love work involving looking after/supporting others – it is the working conditions and poor supervision/management that causes people to leave after a matter of weeks…

                  •  

                    Yes, I’m familiar with how things are in the sector.

                    I started working in the sector in 2008 on a casual contract where I was being paid the basic rate of £8.05, which was back then a decent rate, plus it attracted enhanced payments for night work and weekend work, which made it possible to make a basic living working full time. Though it was casual, in fact I had more than enough work being offered. For three years it was a good number, and though when I worked it out I was only earning in the region of £15k a year, it was still okay, and I more or less worked when I chose.

                    2010 and the Tories came and with them the totally unnecessary austerity measures and attempts to shift things over entirely to the Third Sector, Satan’s little helpers, who radically undercut the rates of pay of the public sector, and brought in things like lone working. They were, and still are able to get away with this because they employ younger workers who are easier to exploit as they have no experience, and crucially no knowledge of the positives brought by union membership, simply because of the lies they’ve been fed all their lives about unions by Tory governments of all colours. Faced with the pressures to cut costs, my then employer started to use their own in house employment agency to employ casual staff who were paid wage rates significantly below those I was receiving, (by nearly a pound an hour on the basic rate) which was a flat rate, so no enhancements for night, weekend or bank holiday work. This saved them considerable sums of money – e.g. for a Saturday night my pay would have been in the region of £198, wheras with one of the cheap causals, (yes, that’s what we called them!) it was more like £90 for a night’s work (12.5 hours shift) How they managed to get away with it I don’t know, as they must have been breaking the rules over equal pay for equal work, which was the basis upon which I was employed.

                    However, there is one hostel in the Third Sector in Cardiff where the staff did stage a kind of revolt and many joined a union, and I believe that as a result of that working conditions rapidly improved. There are also one or two other organisations in the sector in South East Wales who have rapidly gotten their acts together in the face of staff millitancy. And that I think is crucial, I don’t hold with bureaucrats acting behind the scenes, (corrupt, and more likely to side with bosses and sell the membership out) so it’s vital that any such moves are grass-roots and member led, though that is hard to maintain with the mainstream unions which, as your experience has shown, have a tendency to be corrupt – probably because they are dealing with a corrupt system.

                    Don’t worry, I know full well that not all students from England harbour negative viewpoints towards Welsh people, or the Welsh language. However, people fail to learn languages simply because they don’t try, and keep on trying. I learned Welsh myself, so I know exactly how easy it is! All one has to do, really, is to be prepared to open one’s mouth and make an, occasional, fool of oneself!

                    Sadly there are no easy solutions to the bad employer/bad working conditions, crap pay conundrum other than almost anyone will refuse to do the work – and that is likely to happen anyway. Before long the word gets around and that particular body will face difficulties in recruiting staff, or they might succeed for a while until the inevitable scandal erupts when some poor undertrained sap is scapegoated for some incident that they should never have had responsibility for in the first place.

      •  

        Good point Jac. There are some parts of Wales where there is a housing glut, and has been suffering from de-population since WW2. Example is the central valleys. You can pick up a three bed terrace for peanuts, go for an unrenovated one for £15-25k, Ferndale, Baenllechau, Cwm Clydach, Ceiber, or Troedyrhiw. Yet, for some weird reason RCT council have an LDP to build thousands of houses in a county where there are empty properties going for a snip. Why? Because it’s all speculative new-builds down on the M4 corridor around Llantrisant. You therefore have to question the deliverability of the ‘South Wales Metro’ as theoretically the further reaches of the Rhondda, Cynon, and Taf valleys are supposed to be soon made a quick jaunt from Cardiff. That’s just smoke and mirrors. If this was the case, why is Cardiff and the southern part of RCT committed to huge housing developments? Especially when the upper valleys have affordable, often empty properties galore? LDP’s are nothing to do with demand, or local housing need, just speculative development in desirable areas casting aside areas of the native poor who become isolated, ostracised from wealth, and ignored. All LDPs across Wales are creating “taffghettos of poverty”, while the “plushlush paddocks” get executive homes for outsiders. Same can be said for inner city areas within Cardiff itself. The language issue in Gwynedd is, in some ways is just a symptom. A manifestation of a much deeper and widespread betrayal by the Welsh Government.

        •  

          Thoughtful, incisive, having a clear vision and positive solutions to the problems Wales faces, I’d vote for Brychan. Is there really no one in Plaid and Labour with a similar vision, who can hold power to account and make the radical changes Wales needs? As for “Yawn”, it would be great to hear your insight and solutions to the predicament Wales is in, particularly as you sound like you are on the pitch?

          •  

            The key issue for me is hope! Students of global history know that colonial countries obtain independence through a campaign of hope. They work daily to achieve an optimistic way forward. We may not have a Nelson Mandela who remained largely positive through all his and the ANC tribulations. What we know is that in all independence and freedom struggles a minority persuaded a majority to be bold and audacious in overcoming their grievances and sense of oppression.

            We need to build alliances with all open minded people, achieve outcomes that draw in others. We need to interrogate issues effectively but move away from endless conspiracy theories, we need to be comfortable and open about who we are, our personal heritage is a strength not a weakness.

            We need to find the issues that people feel really strongly about, creating a home for yourself and those you love is pretty fundamental for the majority. It is a real struggle for many and the leaders and followers that start to listen and talk to those aspiring for a home in Wales are more likely to be trusted to address other concerns.

            Many of our biggest issues are a consequence not only of a colonial past but an inability to build a popular movement that addresses the big issues of contemporary life in Wales.

            Study the history of ex colonial countries the most effective built the broadest possible consensus withou denying their individual heritage.

            •  

              Study the history of ex colonial countries the most effective built the broadest possible consensus withou denying their individual heritage.

              When people talk about this I always think of Malaysia. We need Welsh as a language because its part of who we are. We also need English in order to progress as a people. Nothing we can really do about English hegemony globally – but its a case of “We use this language as a tool, but it is not ours, nor who we are”

              Anyway… cover my arse first now onto Malaysia… essentially when they became Independent they gradually rejected Imperialism/English language and all of that… we’re not talking bilingualism here… but by the 70s they were doing all of their education at the Primary and Secondary level in Bahasa Malaysia. Obviously since they’ve encountered various issues (one that i remember was that the majority of instructions that come with various devices only comes in the major four or five languages… which became an issue) and in 2003 they rather suddenly decided to teach Science and Maths in English more to do with making sure their students had adequate proficiency in English in order to gain access to higher education. So yeah its worth looking at ex colonial nations – their successes and mistakes. PPMSI i think it was called and its widely regarded of being badly instituted.

              Ultimately though… we’ve got the situation where we are trying to save our language. Does that call for complete immersion? If it does (Which to be honest… right now it probably does)… is there a point where we need to find that happy medium between conservatism and liberalism (a happy medium no one will actually be happy with) in the future?

              We want more Welsh speakers, but we’ve got to be careful not to hinder our young reaching the most of their potential and having access to all English language has to offer.

              I’ve gone right off topic… but studying ex-colonial nations is very, very important right now as far as Welsh language goes. We’re not going to find something we’re happy with but we’ve got to do a balancing act.

              •  

                To build on this, we should not fear the working through of the consequences of the actions now, leading to an independent state and then the consequences when we are fully self governing. We will get some things wrong but the working through of what is right for us the citizens of Wales is what is important. I want people to be more self confident, not worried and closed down or lashing out at all and sundry.

                The first task is to build a majority, this means conserving what is worth conserving and being liberal in what requires being liberal, we also need to be collective in building upon each other’s contributions and working through disagreements through discussions, sometimes parking things when we cannot find common ground and then returning following further reflection and study/learning. I do not deny that this is personally very challenging!

                If we want private and public investment in our communities we need to be explicit in tackling the big issues. First we need personally to invest in our communities time and money. Secondly we need to acknowledge we will have to tax people probably more than we presently do, we will have to stop funding some things maybe many things because they are not a priority, thirdly we will have to borrow money probably a lot more money on the international money markets at an enhanced price.

                I have never understood why there are not more local schemes where citizens with money invest in local schemes to ensure both employment and housing for the younger generation. Others without money could offer their skills and labour. Start with where we are. All of us choose to live in Wales and at this moment in whatever our local village or town is.

                Young people have always left their home villages or towns. It is probably a good rite of passage but some return and some do not want to move away in the first place. Vibrant communities address these issues, elder wisdom is brought into play. We need to trust people until they behave in untrustworthy ways and even then provide second chances if possible. We need to be inclusive where ever possible.

                Some people writing on this blog might think and feel I am one of “them” rather than one of “us”, I do not feel or think that way. I want to build the widest alliances so the authentic and legitimate grievances people have can be resolved. I have never worried about disagreement or being reminded of my ignorance, lack of skill or knowledge. If we are human it happens to all of us. We learn from it.

                The actions of people from England in the past need to be addressed as they do in many colonial countries that does not mean that people with English heritage or heritage from any other nation cannot contribute to build a Welsh nation to a point further than it is in this moment, a nation that further contributes to the global tribe as it has done from the earliest times.

                Let us disagree but through discussion find common ground.

              •  

                You have some interesting points, but I’d also suggest that Scandinavian countries are looked at, and the way their young are educated, many of whom speak English better than the English, whilst ensuring that their languages predominate.

                The issue of instructions in local languages are easy to deal with – simply banning the sale of any appliance not containing instructions in the local language would do the trick. Here we must recognise that we are a market, and brands want to sell to us, therefore they will do a few sums and work out that providing instructions in local languages costs x, but the sales are of y are many multiples of the x figure.

                However, they aren’t going to do that unless they are legally required to. Thus, we should now be demanding that all supermarket chains start not only putting up bilingual signage, but also start providing both package labeling and instructions/directions in Welsh. Many of those chains are now pretty much at saturation point, and must be making an adequate return for their brands, so they are in a relatively weak position.

                All it would take is a bold political class – and the lack of this is probably the biggest problem we have to face on this.

                English isn’t going to suffer, and Welsh people will always have the ability to speak it fluently.

                The current bilingual model just isn’t going to work, and was only ever a scheme that only the criminally naive, (Plaid Cymru, CYIG?) were prepared to believe in. Granted, the situation in South East Wales is somewhat complex on this issue, but even that is not beyond a solution that respects both the particular linguistic tradition of that area, but also the a future where the Welsh language is essential.

                The ‘English as a tool’ is exactly where we meed to be!

  10.  

    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.

    •  

      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.

      •  

        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.

  11.  

    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. .

    •  

      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.

      •  

        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.

        •  

          I have always argued that education in Wales is obsessed with getting kids into university and sod those who don’t make it. This has two main results: 1/ We lose too many of our most talented people. 2/ We are left with an unskilled workforce which results in jobs demanding skills having to be filled by imported workers.

          What sort of a ‘Welsh’ education system is this from which only England benefits? There, I’ve answered my own question.

          Other countries – Germany obviously comes to mind – have a different approach, by giving less academic kids a more practical education. Look at the results!

          •  

            A situation that was made much worse by Blair’s ‘widening participation in HE’ Jac. A policy that was developed without any input from researchers who actually knew about the subject, a policy which therefore resulted in grade inflation, a devaluing of education, the marketization of universities and the acceptance of students without the academic ability needed as long as they pay up. Blair and co based their whole policy on the social mobility that the 60s generation enjoyed after gaining a university education, without realising that although that undoubtedly happened, socio-economic conditions were different then and there was also an expansion of professional jobs for the new generation of graduates to fill. Then Cherie went and insulted everyone who worked in a shop by saying that if she hadn’t been to university she’d be working in a shop. What is Cherie actually doing as opposed to making herself useful in Spar? She’s married to a crook who brought politics into complete disrepute whilst both she and her crooked husband have set up consultancies advising some of the world’s most unpleasant dictators…

            •  

              Come now. Tony Blair is hardly unique in that role. Politicians by definition are a treacherous lot. They need to make sitting in the Commons something like jury duty… or just letting people sit once every 4-5 elections.

              •  

                He’s not unique but he’s the finest example… And I think that he’s the only one who has a wife who’s a Human Rights lawyer who makes a living defending the human rights of some of the worst abusers of human rights on the planet…

                •  

                  True, Blair is hardly unique but he did a heck of a lot to crystallize and draw attention to the increasingly slimy, devious, manipulative characteristics of much of the recent generation of politicians. It seems that chancers have reigned supreme duped into adopting dangerous policies which only benefit certain vested interests while ignoring or deliberately harming the interests of most ordinary folk.

                  •  

                    I believe its more the increased media focus (interwebs) and his contemporary presence which draws it. That is to say we notice it more because information and news is far easier to come by than say in Ted Heaths reign.

            •  

              Cytuno cant y cant Dr Sally! Ever since Blair plucked that 50% figure out of thin air I knew that we were in for what used to be called the Diploma Disease in the developing world, which saw an increase in demand for ever more paper qualifications completely unrelated to the jobs to be done. I think these kinds of qualifications were wonderfully satirised by Monty Python with their jokes about degrees in rolling down grass banks.

              It has also led to degree courses being created in subject areas that are probably poorly served by being academic degree level qualifications. I had a lengthy conversation with one of my nieces, who is training to be a nurse, and she was very critical of it in terms that the academic, theoretical aspects take precedence over the practical. Her argument is that the job is practical, and therfore the emphasis should be on the practical. However, as anyone who has studied education knows, there is a hierarchy of knowledge, which puts sciences above the arts, and both of these over practical skills. This not only led to the current situation where there is a glut of academic institutions that all want to be degree awarding bodies. This led to the demise of the UK’s Polytechnic sector, as they all wanted the snob value of being universities, awarding their own degrees in place of a centrally accredited qualification of known value. It probably also led, indirectly, to the demise of the University of Wales, the constituent parts of which have now become bloated standalone institutions of dubious value totally out of scale with the needs of Wales.

              It’s not only Germany that has a well thought out higher education sector, where those who are not academic can also achieve. France is also such a country, and we all probably know about the French students’ propensity to cause mayhem when their education system is threatened.* All French people have the right to higher education, according to their needs and abilities. Some of that is geared towards practical skills. Their academics are also often genuinely popular figures, which is quite a contrast to here in the UK.

              I agree with Jac, we do need a radically different education system that seeks to upskill all people, and also to do something so that local economies move away from that over-reliance on the ghastly and disfiguring tourist industry that is repsonsible for so much poverty amongst many rural Welsh people. I’m very taken with Open Source ideas, and I think they would be an excellent fit for present day Wales in that they could be used as very cost effective springboard to developing local skill bases and economies up and down Wales. If nothing else, the wholesale adoption of Open Source ideas here in Wales would basically make places like CAT obviously redundant overnight, and that could be no bad thing!

              * There is something to be said about teaching children about their rights as citizens, but I doubt it would work too well in the UK at present. Despite Tony Bliar’s messing about a bit with the semantics, it wouldn’t take the brightest person very long to realise that ordinary people in the UK are basically subjects, i.e. serfs, who only have ‘rights’ in as much as Parliament gives them, so in fact, we don’t have rights at all, merely privileges, which can be taken away. Which probably explains why children in the UK aren’t taught such useful things as about their rights etc.

              •  

                You’ve summed up a number of the problems that arose from Blair’s ill-thought out policy. It also completely killed the notion of a critical, liberal education for ‘ordinary’ people. Because Blair’s original vision led to masses of students studying subjects deemed by politicians to be ‘Mickey Mouse’ (eg. sports science, media studies etc) – of course it did, it was a marketised system based on student choice and they chose the subjects that they wanted!) – politicians who were very rarely science graduates themselves then went on the offensive, demanding efforts be made to pressurise students into vocational subjects, particularly students from non-privileged backgrounds for whom future employment and repayment of debts was causing anxiety. This has resulted in the ultimate hierarchy – if you are a bright working class kid with no family experience of university, then you’ll be sold the idea of a degree or a lower level qualification at somewhere like Glyndwr University in a subject like mechanics or engineering or if female of course the healthcare professions. If however your mum or dad is a cabinet minister, you’ll be aiming for Oxbridge to do PPE or history. The attitude was exemplified by Charles Clark’s crass comments about ‘useless’ degrees in classics. Clark himself was an Oxbridge graduate in something very similar. Of course, if you’re very rich and don’t get into Oxbridge, you can go to A.C. Grayling’s New College of the Humanities.

                The message is absolutely clear. One type of education for the privileged, vocational courses at a lower ranking university for the rest of you. And what are the best subjects to study if you want to go into the upper echelons of the Civil Service or politics? Er, humanities subjects – but at elite institutions of course, not Glyndwr.

                It is a con of enormous proportions.

          •  

            We don’t inspire and promote our own ingenuity.

            Parry Thomas of Wrexham. He studied electrical engineering and in WW1 worked as an aero-engine designer. At Leyland Motors as chief engineer he developed the Leyland eight, the basis of all modern layout motorcars. He then purchased a racing car and adapted the 26.9 litre, V12 American Liberty engine, adding new pistons of his own design, invented superior aerodynamics, and with this car broke the land speed record on Pendine sands in 1926 at 171mph. Wales held the world speed record. Tragically he died at a subsequent attempt, and the car, Babs, remained buried at Pendine.

            http://news.images.itv.com/image/file/113111/article_1eee844a1acc4350_1351777794_9j-4aaqsk.jpeg

            Owen Wyn Owen of Capel Curig. He dug up ‘Babs’ from Pendine in the late 1960s and restored it. When rebuilt it was tested on The Helyg straight in the early 70s and ran like a dream. The car is currently hidden in a museum owned by Carmarthenshire Council but not promoted, or toured around Wales, or recognised in Wales. Owen Owen, incidentally, was my mechanical engineering lecturer at Gwynedd Technical College in the 70s. Sadly, the college now renamed Menai, does hairdressing and tourism studies. Engineering is now considered a ‘dirty’ profession.

            In Wales we now educate for poverty and servitude. We deny our heroic enterprise, and hide away our icons under dust sheets in sheds. This, while the Welsh Government spend colossal sums celebrating our defeat with arty ‘rings’ at Fflint castle.

            http://l7.alamy.com/zooms/0885866830204fb09833324822dac02b/1923-thomas-special-babs-at-the-goodwood-festival-of-speed-sussex-adpbtm.jpg

            Plant this on the lawn inside Caernarfon castle. Be proud of our heroes. Perhaps instead of the ‘Circuit of Wales’ gravy train, as if we need some kind of begging bowl showering English companies with cash, we should show this Welsh masterpiece to inspire our home-grown youth what Welsh motor pioneers can do. Take it to Rassau and EbbwVale?

            •  

              Interested to hear that you were a student at Gwynedd Technical College in the 70s when it was still functioning properly. I have only known about it’s doings since the mid 1980s and God is it one troubled institution whatever name it goes under. A major staff bullying problem, plenty of good lecturers who are routinely kept on hourly short term contracts whilst complete idiots are appointed to managers jobs on the basis of pure nepotism. The ‘senior managers’ are known as the ‘chavistocrats’ by the people working their nuts off and that pretty much sums them up. They are medicore in their qualifications, crass and vulgar and reputed to be fiddling on a massive scale in terms of expenses and freebies. Good lecturers tend to leave after a year – I left after I was told to write the students’ course work for them!

              Another highlight whilst I worked there was a local predator in his 50s who was known to have a sexual
              interest in teenaged boys hanging around the café posing as a mature student. The one really good member of staff that I worked with warned me that this was going on and told me that if I spotted him I had to flag his presence up to senior colleagues. Within days I saw him, in the canteen, waiting for his prey – so I returned to the staff office and told two senior members of staff. They told me that there was nothing to worry about at all ‘because he’s not interested in girls’. These were two lecturers in social work. But then that makes sense – they had both worked as social workers in north Wales when the north Wales paedophile ring had been operating through the social services. That ring targeted mainly teenaged boys.

              In a desperate attempt to address the car crash that was Coleg Menai, a few years ago the Welsh Gov’t forced it to merge with Coleg Llandrillo, which was a far, far better institution. I have been told that because there was of course a policy of ‘no redundancies’ the chavistocrats were all given senior positions in the new organisation and are wrecking it. The good staff that Coleg Llandrillo had on its books are leaving because they cannot bear the chavistocrats. So now Coleg Llandrillo is going downhill as well.

              •  

                It’s sad to hear about what has happened to Coleg Menai and subsequently to Coleg Llandrillo. I’m sure similar scenarios have played out in other college merges all over Wales, and probably beyond too. It’s all part and parcel of a government elite obsessed with the neo-liberal ideology where the price of everything is known, but not it’s value.

                In a personal sense, the merger I was most disappointed about was that between Coleg Harlech and WEA North Wales in 2001, which basically spelt the end for what was once a valuable and unique educational institution that punched well above it’s weight. The college has now gone through a further merger, and now, as of the end of this academic year, Coleg Harlech is no more.

                I don’t know what happened there, but it seems to me, as someone looking in from the outside, that the decision to merge with the WEA was one of the most stupid educational decisions ever made in Wales. The college went from being a financially cautious institution with ample cash reserves, to virtual bankruptcy in a relatively short time. The proposed Cambria Centre was almost a textbook example of how not to plan a business development! I don’t have any personal experience of the WEA at an academic level, so I can’t comment on that, but on a financial level they appear to be little short of unbelievably incompetent.

                In many ways, Coleg Harlech is the ideal model for the kind of academic institutions that Wales needs. It provided an extremely challinging academic environment, with a dedicated and able teaching staff. It also provided much needed full-time all year round employment. In the mid 80s the college was responsible for boosting the local Harlech economy by some £1.5 million when staff wages and expenditure by both the college and the students were taken into consideration.

                •  

                  Yes, it was a nationwide scenario. I had friends working in FE in Somerset who reported the same chaos and a friend who worked in Yorkshire who saw complete madness. They all observed that FE had been wrecked, because as with the NHS, the problems that were in the system were concealed and denied, so ballooned. Now the same thing is happening in Universities.

                  Coleg Harlech was a bit before my time, but I know that many former students talk about it giving them huge opportunities. I know two excellent historians who used to work there, so at least some staff were very high calibre. Interesting that you mention the WEA. I know one person who used to run WEA courses, she was very obviously on the fiddle and cooking her books. I know another one who was at a very senior level in the WEA in north Wales who constructs herself as a feminist historian. I attended a lecture of hers and she didn’t know her arse from her elbow.

                  •  

                    Up until the ‘merger’ with the WEA in 2001 CH did have a very high calibre of teaching staff. I don’t know what happened subsequently, but things seemed to rapidly go downhill.

                    In my time there all the staff, academic and domestic were really dedicated to making the place as good as it could be. It really felt that they all pulled together to make the place work.

                    Many students from CH went on to Oxbridge, indeed, were encouraged to do so. The teaching was second to none, with one to one tutorials and seminar groups that were small, as well as the usual lectures. Everyone was academically challenged, and even the interview to get in was quite daunting, as prospective students faced a panel of three academic staff, and one member from the student body in their final year.

                    It’s just such a shame that CH didn’t become a constituent of the University of Wales, but I guess they may have been considering that at just about the same time that the plug was pulled on that and the federal structure of higher education in Wales. I know that there were some moves to that effect, but obviously they didn’t bear fruit and CH ended up with the booby prize and merger, (or was it a shotgun wedding?) with the WEA.

                    To me, and it may be that I’ve been reading too much of Jac’s blog, the WEA seems to be yet another Third Sector organisation that is filled with incompetents who have ‘connections’, like as not related in some way to the Welsh Labour Party.

      •  

        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.

        •  

          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 ?

          •  

            But surely, that would be racist?

            •  

              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.

              •  

                I’m not sure that’s true about insurance policies.

                As I know from my own experience, some insurance companies took advantage of the MG campaign to increase ALL house insurance policies. I protested that our house was lived in permanently by a Welsh family – it was never going to be an MG target. To no avail.

                Either our insurance company was too lazy to work out which properties were at risk or, being an English company (as they all are), decided to spread the increase to make Welsh people pay, and maybe make us less inclined to support MG. Which is why I’ve always suspected that there may have been ‘advice’ from certain quarters.

                That said, the MG campaign certainly made English people think twice about buying a holiday home.

            •  

              fuck off play on.

            •  

              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.

              •  

                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?)).

                •  

                  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’.

  12.  

    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!)

  13.  

    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

    •  

      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.

      •  

        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.

  14.  

    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

  15.  

    […] being swallowed up by north west England would be bad enough, but as I explained last month in Gwynedd LDP, and Wider Considerations, the threat is not restricted to the old unitary authority of […]

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