New push for nationwide Bank Holiday to celebrate St David’s Day
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
Gwynedd’s councillors will be asked to back giving the authority’s staff a day off on March 1 and heap more pressure on both the Welsh and UK Governments to establish St David’s Day as an official Bank Holiday.
Llandderfel Plaid Cymru councillor, Elwyn Edwards, will present a motion to next week’s full council meeting urging members to ask the the cabinet to officially recognise St David’s Day by awarding an extra day’s leave to the authority’s workforce.
Celebrated on March 1, Dydd Gwyl Dewi is not an official national holiday despite strong support in Wales.
St Andrew’s Day has been a public holiday north of Hadrian’s Wall since the passing of the St. Andrew’s Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007, although remaining at the discretion of employers.
St Patrick’s Day is also a designated public holiday on the island of Ireland.
But Cllr Edwards’ motion will also call on the authority to write to the UK Government and back the devolution on the power to create Bank Holidays for Wales – via the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 – as is already the case in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
As a result Wales has fewer Bank Holidays than either, on level pegging with England at seven compared to nine in Scotland and 10 in Northern Ireland.
But 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.
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.
Neighbouring Anglesey Council previously awarded staff a St David’s Day holiday, designated not as an “extra day off” but taken from workers’ holiday allowance.
The practice has since come to an end, however.
Ahead of next Thursday’s full council meeting, Cllr Edwards told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We should we celebrating our country’s patron saint and our national day in the same way as Scotland and Ireland celebrate theirs.
“It is about time we followed the same path, which also offers a clear message regarding our status as a standalone country.
“Westminster should be letting the Welsh Government decide, but from the point of view of Gwynedd Council, I appreciate there will be factors in terms of costings before awarding staff the extra day off.
“But certainly we should be afforded the same rights as our Celtic cousins.”
Cllr Edwards’ proposed motion states: “That the council asks the Cabinet to consider officially recognising St David’s Day by giving a day’s leave to its workforce in order to celebrate our Patron Saint’s Day on 1 March 2022 and every year thereafter.
“And, that the Council calls on Westminster Government to devolve to Welsh Government the power to create bank holidays for Wales in the same manner as already happens in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
It will be discussed when Gwynedd’s full council meets on Thursday, October 7.
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