Powys to discuss motion to give all staff the day off on March 1 to celebrate St David’s day
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
Powys County Council staff could be given March 1 off as an unofficial bank holiday to celebrate St David’s day.
At Friday’s council meeting a motion by Plaid Cymru group leader Cllr Elwyn Vaughan for this to happen, will be discussed by councillors.
If councillors were to vote in favour of motion, the council would be following Gwynedd’s council lead.
Earlier this year Gwynedd agreed to give their staff a holiday on March 1. This move sparked a national debate on Wales on bank holidays.
Patron saints in both Scotland and Northern Ireland are celebrated with bank holidays, after the power to do this was devolved to their respective parliament and assembly.
St Andrew’s day in Scotland is on November 30 and St Patrick’s day in Northern Ireland is on March 17.
But for Wales, power to decide on bank holidays remains a UK Government reserved matter.
Plaid Cymru group leader Cllr Elwyn Vaughan also asks in his motion that the council call on “the UK Government to devolve the power to create bank holidays for Wales to the Welsh Government.
In her assessment of the proposal, head of finance, Jane Thomas believes that the bank holiday would hit the council’s “productivity.”
Ms Thomas said: “As an example, the recent bank holiday to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on Friday, June 3 resulted in all employees being entitled to a holiday with normal day’s pay on the additional bank holiday.
“The council did however have to ensure that essential services were maintained, with employees working that day being eligible for enhanced payments or a day off in lieu.”
Ms Thomas explained that roughly this cost around £700,000 – and more detailed work would be needed to calculate an accurate figure as well as needing to wait for further expense claims due to the bank holidays to be lodged by staff.
Ms Thomas said: “In addition, care staff in our supported tenancies, home care and Children’s homes are entitled to enhanced pay for that day.
“The estimated additional cost for that is £72,000.”
But, Ms Thomas said that sending a letter to the UK Government asking for the power to create bank holidays to be handed over to the Welsh Government would have a “minimal impact on budgets.”
St David lived from around 500AD to 589AD and was the Bishop of Minevia – now St David’s during the sixth century.
St David is believed to have been a member of the ruling Ceredigion dynasty, a grandson of King Caredig ap Cunedda who came to Wales from “Yr Hen Ogledd” – the old north which now encompasses northern England and the Scottish lowlands.
He was the son of Non who was also a saint and is believed to have founded a convent at Llanon between Aberystwyth and Aberaeron.
He was buried at St David’s cathedral in what is now Pembrokeshire, and his shrine became a popular place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages.
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