Blaenau Gwent is about ‘more than just Aneurin Bevan’, says councillor in tourism plug
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
Blaenau Gwent is about more than just Aneurin Bevan a councillor has said.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council on Wednesday, February 9, councillors looked at a plan to increase the number of tourists to the area, by using Tredegar’s most famous son as a catalyst.
The idea was first thought up in 2018, and consultants had developed a number of themes around Aneurin Bevan’s life and work that could be used to raise the profile of Blaenau Gwent.
Business and regeneration service manager, Owen Ashton explained the strategy was part of a “wider” destination management plans, and as so much time had elapsed the projects and their costs would need to be updated.
Cllr Haedley McCarthy said: “I sometimes think we sell the county borough short, and we look like a one-trick pony.
“I’m probably as great a supporter of Aneurin Bevan as you’re likely to find.
“We always seem to come down to Aneurin Bevan – there’s streets named after him, hospital a health board a leisure trust all name after him.”
He went on to list a number of well-known footballers, referees, writers, opera singers, and actors that came from towns and villages in Blaenau Gwent.
Cll McCarthy said: “I think we need to diversify and look at all the other great people. Yes, Bevan might be the greatest of them all, but there are other this borough produced.
“Sometimes we put all our eggs in one basket, and we have a richer basket than we’re telling the rest of the world.”
‘Forgotten to mention’
Cllr Martin Cook, reminded Cllr McCarthy that he had forgotten to mention all the rugby stars from the area that had played for Wales and the British Lions in his list.
Cllr John Morgan said: “I have been waiting for a long time for this, but there are some things that have moved on, the study is out of date.”
He believed that council and organisations needed to come together under town partnership boards to work on heritage and tourism projects in the county.
Cllr Phil Edwards “At last we’re talking about tourism, and there is a lot of tourism available here if only we could publicise it.”
Cllr Gareth Alban Davies said that work was already underway to organise celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the birth of the NHS.
Cllr Malcom Cross believed that a tourism centre should be built just on the “highest point” of the Heads of the Valley road, giving tourists information explaining what is in Blaenau Gwent.
“We have to sell ourselves better,” said Cllr Cross
Councillors voted to support the strategy with amendments – and an updated report will go on to be discussed at a meeting of the executive committee.
Born in Tredegar in 1897, Aneurin Bevan became one of the UK’s greatest politicians of the the 20th century.
In 1928 he was elected as the Labour MP for Ebbw Vale and became a prominent figure on the party’s left.
His greatest achievement in government as minister for health was the National Health Service Act 1946 which came into force on July 5, 1948.
Bevan based it on what he saw of the Tredegar Medical Aid Society, where residents would pay a subscription that would fund access for all of the town’s inhabitants to have free access to medical services such as nursing or dental care.
He was elected deputy leader of the Labour party in 1959, but soon afterwards was diagnosed with stomach cancer – he died at his home, Ashridge Farm, Buckinghamshire on July 6, 1960.
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