Opinion

Only two days remain for you to help us secure a future for the Coleg Harlech site

12 Feb 2021 4 minutes Read
The distinctive Theatr Ardudwy Theatre closed and for sale. Picture by Talsarnau Times (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Padi Phillips

This article represents one last call for you to sign the petition to call on the Welsh Government to purchase and refurbish Coleg Harlech.

Last week we saw the Welsh Government U-turn on cuts to the National Library of Wales, announcing an extra £6.2 million of funding after over 10,000 people signed a petition calling for fair funding.

Another gem in Wales’ national crown is Coleg Harlech. For 90 years between 1927 and 2017 it provided a second chance at further education for those of us, nationally and internationally (Coleg Harlech always had a few students from outside the UK), who might have messed up our first chance or may not have had access to a decent education at all.

Coleg Harlech was in its own way just as important to Harlech as the National Library is to Aberystwyth, and maybe in some ways even more important. In the mid-1980s the college was directly responsible for contributing one and a half million pounds a year, with what students spent on top of that. The college kept the town going when the holidaymakers weren’t around.

It was also the site of Theatr Ardudwy, which for many decades from 1973 onwards provided a venue for local people to get involved with drama, to see the latest blockbuster films, watch Welsh National Opera performances and other events that couldn’t be staged anywhere else locally.

Peter Humphreys / Harlech College / CC BY-SA 2.0

However, now that the college is closed, and has been since 2017, we are now hoping that we can persuade the Welsh government to discuss future uses for the Coleg Harlech site that bring maximum benefit to the people of Harlech.

I feel very privileged to have been a student at Coleg Harlech, and now part of a campaign to get the Welsh government to consider a role for the site of the former college that will bring maximum benefit to the local community.

There are other organisations willing to consider alternative uses – there is local interest in reopening Theatr Ardudwy, and plans to use the college site and that of the next-door St David’s Hotel site for badly needed social housing – but it needs the Welsh government to be on board.

Value

The petition closes on Sunday, and instead of the 5000 signatures needed when the petition was started, the Welsh government retroactively applied the new rules to the petition, and so it now needs 10,000 signatures.

Until a few days ago the numbers stood at just over 2000, but in the past couple of days, more and more people have signed and the petition has almost reached its original target. Can we now hope to reach the new target of 10,000? With your help we can. There are getting on for 20,000 YesCymru members, most of us recently members who have become so because we care about our country. There are more than enough of us to make a difference, particularly in things like this, which is defending Wales in every way possible.

It’s too late to save Coleg Harlech, but it’s not too late to create some kind of memorial to the college and also to reclaim something of lasting value from the wreckage that is of continuing benefit to the community.

Notwithstanding Coleg Harlech, or indeed the National Library of Wales we need to consider what we are about and what makes up Wales. With this in mind I think we need to be ready to defend all that we are, to question any attempt to reduce our institutions, no matter how small, obscure or insignificant they may appear to us – they often have huge value to many, and though they might represent a fringe interest, we do need reminding that we in Wales are a fringe interest to some, which is why all of us are members of YesCymru.

So, come along, all we need are just over 5000 more signatures to ensure that the future use of the Coleg Harlech site is discussed in the Senedd.

As our patron saint is alleged to have said, “Gwnewch y pethau bychain” Do the small things, like adding your name to the petition. You know that you, and Wales, are worth it!

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