Caerphilly Council to lobby both Welsh and UK Governments to make St David’s Day a national bank holiday
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
Caerphilly County Borough Council will lobby both the Welsh Government and UK Government to make St David’s Day a national bank holiday.
In December, the UK Government rejected calls for a St David’s Day Bank Holiday – claiming too many people commute across the Welsh and English border to make it feasible.
In Scotland, St Andrew’s Day is a bank holiday and in Northern Ireland, St Patrick’s Day is a bank holiday.
Plaid Cymru councillor Teresa Parry, who represents the Hengoed ward, said: “The right to call a holiday should be with the Welsh Government and no-one in Westminster should be able to thwart our desire. Wales is being treated as a second class nation and that is appalling.”
An amended motion was passed at the council’s meeting on Wednesday, January 27. The motion stated the council would make representations to the Welsh Government and the UK Government to request a national public holiday.
The original motion called on the council to follow in Gwynedd Council’s footsteps and give council staff the day off on St David’s Day.
The amended motion stated that St David’s Day should be a bank holiday for everyone in Wales, not just council staff.
Council leader Philippa Marsden said: “It would not be right or fair for those employees of CCBC alone to benefit from a public holiday, whilst their family members or neighbours employed elsewhere do not.”
Cllr Colin Mann, Leader of the council’s Plaid Cymru group, expressed his support for the amended motion and said Wales should have a holiday like “our Celtic cousins in Scotland and Ireland”.
Cllr Mann also voiced his belief that England should have a holiday for St George’s Day.
Cllr Parry said: “I am pleased the amended motion received support from all groups within Caerphilly Council’s chamber.”
The move comes after Gwynedd Council has voted to become the first council to give staff St David’s Day off.
The proposal backed by Gwynedd Council will cost £200,000 due to the need to employ part-time staff to keep the council running on March the 1st.
Cllr Dafydd Meurig, the council’s deputy leader, however said that he believed that Wales could “benefit economically” if St David’s Day celebration became widespread in the country.
“That would be the ideal and ensure that all workers from all sectors have a national holiday to celebrate St David’s Day on the first of March,” he said.
“If Ireland’s St Patrick’s public holiday is anything to go by, there is the potential there for Wales to benefit economically.”
The item voted on by Gwynedd Council said that “St David’s Day 2022 is designated as an additional holiday day for Council staff working on the terms of employment of local government employees, for celebrating our patron saint’s day to be funded in accordance with paragraph 2.10 of the report b”.
It also suggests that the council “authorize officers to investigate possible options to make such an arrangement permanent and to that end further discussions with the recognized trade unions and continue to lobby for Westminster Government support for devolution to the Welsh Government empowered them to establish bank holidays for Wales”.
The report notes that it “would cost around £200,000 every year to the Council (around £100,000 to execute the last option which is half a day of holiday and redesignating the other half day of holidays which are currently allowed)”.
“These costs are mainly because of the need to employ part-time staff to ensure that the service continues in the absence of full-time staff.”
Earlier the Welsh Government said that they had asked “time after time” for the power to denote 1 Mawrth a bank holiday.
In October of last year, Gwynedd Council send a letter to UK Government ministers calling for an end to the “embarrassing” anomaly of the Scottish and Northern Irish Governments being able to designate their national days while no such powers are currently devolved to Cardiff Bay.
But in a letter Paul Scully MP, the Minster for Small Business, has poured cold water on any additional Bank Holiday for Wales.
Writing in response to the council’s request, Mr Scully noted, “While we appreciate that the people of Wales want to celebrate their patron saint, more people work across the English/Welsh border than across the English/Scottish border.
“This closer degree of integration could cause greater business disruption. If we had separate bank holidays in England and Wales, the impact on both employees and businesses is difficult to predict.”
In the proposal before Gwynedd Council next week, this response is described as “hugely disappointing”.
“It is obvious that the current government at Westminster has no intention of devolving this right and so it will not be possible for the Welsh Government to respond to the council’s demand for now,” they said.
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