A Tory Senedd candidate has said he will “make no apologies” for comments he made about the “go away attitude” of Gwynedd and Anglesey.
Charlie Evans, who is standing for the Conservatives in the Gwynedd constituency of Dwyfor Meirionnydd, stood by remarks he made during a Facebook discussion about tourism in the area, in which he said the attitude goes against everything he stands for.
During the conversation, held on Zoom, critical comments were made about the attitude of the area during a lockdown that was put in place to stem the spread of Covid-19.
According to Mr Evans, Gwynedd and Anglesey, are “less willing” to attract “inward investment” than Flintshire, Denbighshire and Conwy.
He has claimed that his comments were about “political leaders”, and not about the whole area, after he came under fire for them.
Mr Evans said: “It’s not all of Gwynedd and was a critique of political leaders. Tourism and hospitality is Gwynedd’s biggest employer. I make no apologies for speaking up for it.”
Residents in the area were unhappy about reports of people breaking Covid-19 regulations in order to visit holiday homes when there were lockdown restrictions.
North Wales Police investigated claims that second home owners were sending their suitcases of clothes via courier so that they aren’t caught travelling unnecessarily.
A group of GPs from across Wales wrote to the First Minister Mark Drakeford and the to the Health Minister Vaughan Gething urging tougher action on second homes in Wales, including making second home occupation illegal until the Covid-19 emergency is over.
‘Protect the communities’
In response to Mr Evans defending his remarks, Gwynedd-based Dr Eilir Hughes, one of the signatories of the letter, said: “I make no apologies for respectfully attempting to protect the communities that I serve from a deadly virus that has been totally mismanaged by a Tory government.
“The UK borders should have been closed, yet they’re still open and 100k deaths later and counting. Heartbreaking.”
Mr Evans replied: “Dr Eilir- the conversation was about last summer when the economy had reopened. Typically that nuance wasn’t accounted for.”
Gwynedd resident Ann Hopcyn added: “I don’t think Charlie’s realised that health provision is apportioned according to the number of residents in this area.
“A large influx of visitors and capacity could easily be overwhelmed. Gwynedd and Ynys Môn have ONE main hospital. ONE!”
In the Zoom discussion Mr Evans said: “It feels like Flintshire and Denbighshire are willing to attract the inward investment and things like that, where as in Gwynedd and Anglesey, probably less so Conwy, but certainly Gwynedd has got a bit of a sort of a ‘go away’ sort of attitude and that goes everything I stand for, so this is why I’m joining the fight.”
He then asked: “The comments about the anti-visitor feeling in Bala, where you’re based, what do you think of that?”
Someone in the Zoom discussion responded with: “I mean that’s interesting. The first lockdown there were lots of signs, you’re probably aware, about you know ‘go away British, we’re in lockdown’. I think that was unfortunate in many respects.”