Council postpones decision on whether to host Urdd Eisteddfod in Merthyr Tydfil
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
A decision on whether to host the 2025 Urdd Eisteddfod in Merthyr Tydfil has been put back.
A report to full council on Wednesday, January 5, was due to recommend that councillors approve hosting one of Europe’s largest touring festivals in Cyfarthfa Park.
But the mayor Councillor Malcolm Colbran told full council that the report and presentation would be deferred and considered at a future date due to staff illness.
The proposal follows a request from the Urdd Gobaith Cymru to hold the £2.1m event in Merthyr.
It attracts approximately 100,000 visitors every year and more than 15,000 children and young people under the age of 25 compete as finalists at the National Urdd Eisteddfod.
The Urdd Eisteddfod is broadcast on a variety of media outlets, including 80 television broadcast hours with a reach of 487,000 viewers over the week as well as 50 radio broadcast hours plus content and coverage in the local and national press.
The Urdd Eisteddfod also has a prominent presence on social media networks, the report said.
The Urdd Eisteddfod was last held in Merthyr Tydfil in 1987 and the 2025 event, if approved, would be the largest Welsh language event in the county borough area since then.
The council report said it would contribute to the vision of the council’s Welsh Language Strategy where Welsh is “heard, spoken and celebrated everywhere, regardless of background.”
If approved, a working group between the Urdd and the council would be set up.
‘Free of charge’
School halls and rooms would be needed free of charge for primary and secondary show rehearsals and central committees.
Teachers and/or staff would need to be available to enable children and young people to attend the primary and secondary show rehearsals.
A suitable building for the youth theatrical production would be needed and the council would need to consider a request to allow an ‘in kind’ arrangement for a venue suitable to host the youth theatrical production for a total of seven days for rehearsals and performances.
A minimum of 25 acres for the Maes/field, 50 acres for parking and 15 acres for caravans would also be needed.
A statement of understanding would be drawn up between the Urdd’s marketing and communications department and the council.
The council would need to produce a traffic management plan for the Urdd Eisteddfod Proclamation event and the Urdd Eisteddfod, eliminate any additional costs incurred if road closures or one-way traffic systems need to be installed and be responsible for any new road signs to aid traffic flow and direct everyone safely during the week.
It would also be required to waive any entertainment and alcohol licence fees and planning permission fees.
In terms of economic benefits, the report said that the opportunity for Merthyr Tydfil to host the Urdd Eisteddfod Merthyr Tydfil 2025 “provides a further unique opportunity to showcase Merthyr Tydfil’s real assets and boost our regional profile.”
The Man Engine event, a UK wide event in 2018 where Cyfarthfa Park hosted a south Wales component, attracted around 5,000 people.
The report said that local businesses reported increased trading from this event and it added that The Urdd Eisteddfod would attract “significantly higher numbers” than this into the local economy.
The report said the economy has seen many successes as a result of events predominantly in the town centre such as Merthyr Rising and Chilli Fest.
It said that these events have attracted visitors both locally and regional to the town centre which in effect has boosted trade in the economy resulting in an increase on local spend.
With the success of Bike Park Wales leading to 10 new start up B&Bs, it is hoped the Urdd Eisteddfod will trigger a “new wealth of new sector related businesses” positioning themselves to be ready for this event.
The cost of hosting the Urdd Eisteddfod is £2.1 million with funding coming from the Welsh Government and commercial sponsorship partnerships developed by the Urdd and the rest is from the Urdd’s internal fund raising efforts.
The report said it is an annual challenge to stage a touring festival that offers the best experiences for children, young people, and visitors.
The council would pay a financial contribution of £150,000, which equates to 7% of all costs over a three year period.
The recommendation will come back to council at a future date for a decision.
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