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UK Gov reject calls for St David’s Bank Holiday because ‘too many people commute across Wales-England border’

16 Dec 2021 4 minutes Read
St. David’s Day parade. Picture by the Senedd Cymru (CC BY 2.0)

Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy reporter

The UK Government has rejected calls for a St David’s Day Bank Holiday after claiming too many people commute across the Welsh and English border to make the idea feasible.

October saw Gwynedd Council send a letter to 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.

Celebrated on March 1, Dydd Gwyl Dewi is not an official national holiday despite strong historic support in Wales, sparking Cllr Elwyn Edwards’ motion which garnered unanimous support from Gwynedd’s councillors.

St Andrew’s Day has been a public holiday in Scotland since the passing of the St. Andrew’s Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007, although remaining at the discretion of employers, with St Patrick’s Day also a designated public holiday on the island of Ireland.

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.”

Acknowledging that an extra bank holiday “may benefit some communities and sectors,” he added that an assessment of the additional day off for the 2012 Diamond Jubilee found that it had cost the economy around £1.2bn.

Noting that the UK Government “remains committed to working together with all the devolved administrations to ensure that the UK’s institutions are working collectively as one United Kingdom,” Mr Scully confirmed that the UK Government had “no current plans” to change the “well-established and accepted arrangements” for Bank Holidays in Wales.

‘Lack of understanding’

But the response has been slammed by a council cabinet member, accusing the UK Government of “lacking understanding of devolution and of Wales.”

Plaid Cymru councillor Nia Jeffreys, who holds the portfolio for Corporate Support, said, “I am very disappointed by this answer and I know people and children across Gwynedd will feel the same.

“St David’s day is an important date in our calendar and our hearts in Wales and we should be able to celebrate it as a national holiday.

“The response shows a lack of understanding of devolution and of Wales, but sadly this is what we have come to expect from the Boris Johnson’s UK Government.”
Wales and England currently enjoy seven Bank Holidays compared to nine in Scotland and 10 in Northern Ireland.

Successive UK Governments have so far failed to grant Wales similar powers to the other Celtic nations, requiring amendments to the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971.

This is despite the then National Assembly voting unanimously in favour of a St David’s Day Bank Holiday in 2000.

In 2014 it was also 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 that move was also rebuffed.

Responding to such points, Mr Scully’s reply to Gwynedd Council went on to note, “Each devolution settlement has been developed against a backdrop of different histories, economic, social and cultural and legal systems.

“Different factors will require separate considerations. What works in one place may not work for another and we should not assume that devolution is the right solution because the matter is devolved elsewhere.”

It should now be: A Welsh Government spokesperson said, “We have asked the UK Government time and time again to devolve the powers to designate a St David’s Day Bank Holiday to the Senedd, and its very disappointing that these requests continue to be refused.”

An online petition by Elfed Wyn ap Elwyn calling on the UK Government to establish a St David’s Day Bank Holiday has so far gathered over 6,000 signatures, requiring 10,000 to garner an official response or 100,000 to be considered for Parliamentary debate.


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Dafydd
Dafydd
6 months ago

This attempt at forced intergration makes me sick – why should they have the power to decide and not us?

Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas
6 months ago

You’ve made my day 🤣😂😅

Mark
Mark
6 months ago

Bit of a joke really, here we are talking independence and we can’t even get the Inglish dictatorship to let us have our own saints day/bank holiday.

Jack
Jack
6 months ago

Give England a bank holiday on St David’s day too then.

Problem solved.

Pob lwc
Pob lwc
6 months ago
Reply to  Jack

St David’s Day, St George’s Day and St Andrew’s Day should just be bank holidays in Wales, England and Scotland. Like you say, problem solved.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
6 months ago
Reply to  Pob lwc

That would mean time off for the great unwashed, the tories would never agree to that. I think they would sooner make us all work on Christmas day than give us extra holidays.

j humphrys
j humphrys
6 months ago
Reply to  Jack

Yep, if it’s a Union why not ? Ha! But if you think on, a cultural celebration would give us a chance to show England who we are, where we came from, our history, our songs.
Most of them haven’t a clue, so this could be a direct handshake to the English people?

Keith Gogarth
Keith Gogarth
6 months ago

Sometimes direct action is required

O Rob
O Rob
6 months ago
Reply to  Keith Gogarth

Correct. You won’t get anything from our english rulers masquerading as the uk gov by asking nicely

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
6 months ago

There we go again English government treating Wales with contempt Scotland and Ireland keep the money from the crown estate but they will not let Wales control the Welsh crown estate money and once again they’re doing the derty on the Welsh people wake up Wales let’s be Independent then we can have ST David’s day and they can’t interfere with things we in Wales whant to do

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
6 months ago

How to tell everyone you are a britnat idiot without stating you are a britnat idiot.

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
6 months ago

How about we go ahead and do it anyway.If Welsh people work in England then get a job in Wales if you want that extra day off. Honest to god, who do the English take us for with that weakarsed excuse?

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

It is that simple. If you work in Wales you’d get 1st March off. If you work in England you get the Dydd gwyl Sioni, or a date in late July to remember when they won the World Cup which matters more to most of them !!

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
6 months ago

We should all phone in sick on 1st March from now on…

Rob
Rob
6 months ago

Going buy Mr Scully’s logic Northern Ireland should not have 12 July as a Bank Holiday because quite a few people commute across the NI/Republic border. A rediculous reason, one that could fan the flames of anti-English sentiment.

That being said I knew that this was going to get rejected. However Bank Holidays may very well be listed as a Reserved matter, Public Holidays are not (there is a legal difference). Surely then we could call on the Senedd to legislate St Davids Day as a ‘Public Holiday’.

Jack Bryn
Jack Bryn
6 months ago

Naturally, anything that potentially disrupts the imposition of EnglandandWales values and practice will be rejected by the London kleptocrats. The Senedd has to declare a “Day of Celebration” for March 1st and encourage businesses and organisations to engage with it as much as they can. Many may look at giving their employees a day off, or a day in lieu. Others could hold events during the day, and publicise them. Raising the profile of St David’s Day is important. Soon, possibly sooner than we think, we will have a Welsh Parliament who are capable of making March 1st a National… Read more »

JonathanEdwards
6 months ago

Wales can decide. Read the Act. Just don’t call it a Bank Holiday

Paddy
Paddy
6 months ago

I suppose North Rhine-Westphalia shouldn’t have its own public holidays because of the communters between the regions of Germany.

Incredible that Westminster govt has hired a whole team of people whose only job is to think of reasons Wales shouldn’t make its own decisions. And this is the best they could come up with.

Mawkernewek
6 months ago

Why isn’t this a problem on the borders of Germany, between it and Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Austria, Czechia. Poland, and indeed between some individual German Länder?
I suggest the Welsh Government just goes ahead and legislates on it anyway, surely it is no different to the Westminster government trespassing on devolved issues, do it as payback.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

What a load of rubbish! Too much cross border commuting? So Scotland hasn’t a border or face similar issues, but for some reason gained the right to create a Bank Holiday to celebrate St’ Andrew’s Day where we are cynically denied. The Conservatives are playing with fire. The real reason. The Tories want to eradicate Welsh culture and Wales as separate a political entity with their goal of consuming Wales into England. I’ve noticed the Conservatives single Wales out for special treatment. They actually think it will stop calls for Wales to have the right to make the 1st of… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Y Cymro
Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
6 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

I could not agree 👍 more the way that they keep treating Wales this way the More people in Wales think about independence

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

What you need is therapy.

Richard
Richard
6 months ago

An interesting point of view which of course is not evidenced by the facts across Europe. National holidays in travel to work zones cause no issue. In Lille on the French / Flemish border or copenhagan linked to Malmo by bridge or trieste surrounded by slovenia plus Croatia no issues arise in my experience. One experience i can share with Paul Scully is that of a member of the old Irish Home Rule Party i had the honour of meeting many years ago in dublins ‘ Diall. Although well over 90 in the the late 1970s he shared with me… Read more »

R W
R W
6 months ago

No surprises here. Successive Westminster governments – and not just Tory ones – have treated Wales with complete and utter disdain, using the most feeble of excuses to justify their conclusions. Unfortunately, it will keep on happening as long as the majority of people in Wales keep voting for Unionist parties. It”s time to wake up to the reality of the situation.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
6 months ago

What a ridiculous reason, more Englishplaining

Grayham Jones
6 months ago

It’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 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 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
6 months ago

I’m looking forward to the day where we gain independence and make March 1st a bank holiday. Plus we can finally totally ignore the colonialists in Westminster.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

I would go even further and Make Owain Glyndwr Day on September 16th as well as Cofio Llywellyn on December 11th bank holidays.Compared to the rest of Europe we are bottom of the league when it comes to bank holidays.

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