Gwynedd becomes first council to give staff St David’s Day off
Gwynedd Council has voted to become the first council to give staff St David’s Day off.
The decision comes after the Welsh Government expressed their “disappointment” that the UK Government would not allow them control over bank holidays in Wales.
The UK Government had previously said that St David’s Day could not be a bank holiday as there was too much cross-border movement between Wales and England.
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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