Council gives unanimous backing for St David’s Day bank holiday
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
Councillors in Gwynedd have unanimously backed calls to end the “embarrassing” anomaly of the Welsh Government being unable to designate St David’s Day as a national Bank Holiday.
A motion by Cllr Elwyn Edwards, which was unanimously backed by the full council, will also compel the cabinet to explore offering authority’s staff a day’s leave on March 1.
“It makes no sense whatsoever that we, as a country, do not have the power to choose days of national importance to mark our very own history, heritage and language,” said Cllr Edwards, the Plaid Cymru member for Llandderfel.
As a result of the vote, a letter will now be sent to the UK Government calling for the devolution of the powers to create bank holidays for Wales via the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, despite the powers already being used to designate respective patron saint Bank Holidays in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“Obviously, our schools and care workforce will need to be looked at in more detail, as they are vital and important key services,” added Cllr Edwards.
“We must also recognise that there are many events organised to mark the occasion within our schools.
“Gwynedd is a Welsh language and cultural leader, it is therefore fitting that we, as a council, research the practicalities of this request, and encourage other councils across Wales to follow suit.
“Do the little things was St David’s message. Our hope now is that Westminster Government can do one small thing that could become something vast and important for us here in Wales.
“It is high time we had the rights to govern ourselves. We will continue to press for change.”
Successive UK Governments have so far failed to grant Wales such powers despite the then National Assembly voting unanimously in favour of such a move in 2000.
While in 2014 it was reported that First Minister Carwyn Jones had written to the Secretary of State for Wales to seek legislative competence to make Wales’ national day a bank holiday, but the move was rebuffed.
During the debate, Cllr Nia Jeffreys stressed there would be cost implications in providing an extra day off for staff and that the authority could not differentiate between different workers.
Adding it was “embarrassing” that the Senedd didn’t already possess the powers on Bank Holidays, she suggested that using already allocated leave for a St David’s Day holiday could be possible if discussions with unions proved to be successful.
Cllr Edgar Owen said: “There’s always an argument that a Bank Holiday would stop schools celebrating the day, but schools are closed on Christmas Day and they still celebrate the festive season.”
Cllr Dewi Roberts was supportive of the principle but mindful that there shouldn’t be a split between council staff and outside workers supporting the authority, while Cllr Alan Jones Evans suggested there would be economic benefits were a Bank Holiday to be implemented.
“St David’s Day should be part of the economic recovery in getting our countryside and towns back on their feet,” he added.
Cllr Mike Stevens said, “My only reservation of council staff getting an extra holiday is they have terms and conditions far better than those in the private sector.
“A lot of people in the private sector would envy them so I don’t think we should be giving them an additional holiday, it should come out of their holiday entitlement.”
With members unanimously backing the motion, a letter will now be sent to the UK Government calling for the powers to be devolved to Cardiff Bay, as well as a report to the council’s cabinet over the coming months.
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Its the pure disrespect from Westminster and how we are treated the worst out of all the nations that irritates me. Why are we even politically attached to those thieving rats? Even English cities have more power over their policing than we do. FFS, the Isle of Man about 40 miles away from the North Wales coast has more autonomy. We need independence because Westminster and all those two faced unionist politicians are holding us back and dicatating our culture to us.
Unfair to rats.
The Isle of Man has substantially smaller population as well, as do Jersey, Guernsey and Gibraltar.
Of course Boris would reply to Wales celebrating St David’s Day by declaring St. George’s Day a public holiday for England, though this would look as if he were capitulating in the face of Wales’ independence movement. It would make for symmetry across the four nations, ending the anomaly of Scotland and Ireland having national saints’ days and Wales and England none. It would leave the anomaly of Northern Ireland celebrating the Battle of the Boyne. Suggestions please for Wales (AD 584 Battle of Tyndyrn?), Scotland and England. But maybe celebrating mass killings is out of date.
Catraeth is our Thermopylae, but better a day of joy, yes.
That’s a day the English should celebrate – The day the cemented their place as the dominant people on the island, assuring they formed a true nation. Shame we didn’t join Owain et al, may have turned the tide. I would like to hold off on any national holiday (Ok, fallai dydd gwyl Dewi) until we get our independence. Then we can have a national holiday to memorialize our emancipation. may I suggest “Dydd y Rhydd” – “Freedom Day” (I know it should be ‘Diwrnod Rhyddid’ but, as y Cymro, I can’t resist a decent odl)
You can’t celebrate overwhelming odds. Anyway, William saw to it that they
were not the dominant force. Normans still rule as the present occupant of number 10 testifies?
We first need to convince Labour in Wales to push for this. In over 20 years they have not made much of a fuss over this anomaly. And remember , they are first and foremost a unionist party, as you can tell, by most hospitals built in a Labour constituency being named after the English royal family. Little thing can show a lot of how they think.
Good point. Also needs to be pointed out that when labour was the uk govt for 13 years between 1997 and 2010 they also refused requests for st david’s day to be a public holiday in Wales http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2405805.stm
My question is, why are we asking our masters, in Westminster, we should be demanding. I think it’s time for the WG to make a stand on some issue that will have mass support, and this is is one such issue. I am fed up with London making the running, come on Cardiff, get off your knees, the people will stand behind you.
Perhaps a pilgrimage to Saint Davids is in order to promote the idea and show solidarity for Bishop Joanna Penberthy…
There is a legal difference between a Bank Holiday and a Public Holiday. Bank Holidays are listed as a reserved matter so unfortunately the Senedd would not be able to legislate on this matter, and its pointless trying to ask the UK government for this power because they will just simply reject it. But what is to stop the Senedd from legislating it as a Public Holiday?
Needs to be pointed out that when labour was the uk govt for 13 years between 1997 and 2010 they also refused requests for st david’s day to be a public holiday in Wales. History has shown us time after time that we cant trust either of the two main unionist parties when it comes to doing what’s best for Wales http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2405805.stm
Both Scotland & Northern Ireland have bank holidays to celebrate St’ Andrew & St’ Patrick, but cynically Wales is singled out by England’s parliament and denied the right. And let’s not delude ourselves. It is England stopping Wales from designating the 1st of March St’ David’s Day/ Dydd Dewi Sant. I want these questions answered. Why hasn’t Welsh Labour sought the power to create St’ David’s Day national holiday? And if so, what is Whitehall’s reasoning for denying only Wales this right seeing both Scotland & Ireland have the ability and subsequently created a bank holiday? And why hasn’t Welsh… Read more »
Another option: we need to encourage our fellow Welsh citizens to do the decent thing and make a St David’s Day Holiday a fact on the ground, by simply doing everything they can to take the day off and fly the flag. Why are we, as a nation, so timid, so domesticated, so play-safe? Its appalling, the things we are unwilling to do, to become who we need to be.
Nation.Cymru to lead the campaign; how about it?
Have always given my staff St David day off as
I’m welsh we in wales have got to stop being little Englanders and and be proud to be welsh kick all English party’s out of wales that’s the Tories Labour and all Brexit party’s start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴 it’s time for a new wales 🏴
Whilst having a national holiday to celebrate Welsh Identity is soemthing we should have , for Gwynedd employees does it have to be a saints day in March , we still have snow on Yr Wyddfa on March 1st and icy winds along the coastline, a secular holiday would be more progressive and would not exclude those of faiths other than Christianity and those who have no religion and would better reflect that Wales is a secular and diverse nation and has no state religion.