Evidence for presentation to the National Assembly for Wales Culture Committee
Evidence given by 71 individuals from all over Wales
7 Rhes Bodegroes
I have lived in Efailnewydd (about a mile and a half from Pwllheli) since 1986 in a terrace of ten houses (small cottages). When I first came here 2 cottages were holiday homes and the remainder were all Welsh speaking families. Now only three Welsh speaking families live here – 7 are holiday homes. All through the summer holidays and weekends nothing but English is heard. There is a caravan park on the outskirts of the village, and when I am sitting and relaxing at home on the weekend, I often see people passing the house on their way to pick up their papers in the shop, and again
nothing but English is heard.
Similarly when shopping in Pwllheli it is as if I were in the middle of Manchester.
My friend and I had gone in to the local Spar at Abersoch, and we were chatting together and waiting our turn to pay at the till, when an English woman turned to us and said “Do you mind not speaking that stupid language in front of me.”
My husband and I have started to study our family tree, and by going back in time we have discovered the old family houses in Pen Llyn – all are now holiday homes.
David Alun Thomas
1. I live in a terrace house in a row of 10 traditional cottages, and out of the 10 houses only 3 families are Welsh speaking the other 7 cottages are holiday homes, and are empty more often than not.
2. I work as a Painter and Decorator (self-employed) and during the last three weeks I have been working in Llithfaen, Llangian and Llangwnnadl doing external work and
in each of these villages I could hear nothing but the English language all day barely
a word of Welsh was heard. As far as I could ascertain English people occupy all the houses. Pen Llyn’s rural cottages have all gone to outsiders, only the farmers remain.
3. I see young Welsh people speaking English with their children I consider that to be scandalous because those children will then speak English with everybody.
4. My son has just graduated from university this year, but there is not much hope that he will find work in this area.
5. I have heard that planning permission granted in the 70s to build houses in Abersoch is still in force.
6. My daughter lives in Abersoch and I hate going there to visit her because I feel intimidated. They look at me in an odd sort of way because I have a Welsh name on the van as well as the red dragon. I look forward to seeing New Legislation being brought in to control in-migration to Pen Llyn, and to keep the language alive.
Who said that “When Welsh dies in the Rhondda and Trawsfynydd then it will die throughout Wales”?
I left Ysgol Bro Hedd Wyn, Trawsfynydd in 1979. At that time there were 128 pupils at the school (primary school) and only two of them, a brother and sister, had to receive special lessons to improve their Welsh, and that was only because they had moved away from the village to Hong Kong for a brief period when very young due to their father’s work.
The results of a review conducted by â€˜Trawsnewidâ€™ the village regeneration agency reveal that only 75% of the population speak Welsh. Twenty years, more or less; what of the next ten years? Trawsfynydd is an interesting example. When the Nuclear Power Station was being built, many workers from all over Britain moved into the area. Some settled in Trawsfynydd, others in Blaenau Ffestiniog.
However, this had little effect on the language of the area. This was natural in-migration to a healthy community that was not under threat. If marrying locally, the language of the parents at home would be English, but despite this, due to the strength of the language in the community, children such as these would be turned into fluent Welsh speakers. As things stand with the housing market and the terrible
state of the rural economy, we have seen wave after wave of a new kind of in-migration, an unnatural kind of in-migration. In-migration of whole families with young children, in-migration of retired people and so on. In-migration for in-migration’s sake. Incomers bringing their culture with them. Bearing in mind that this new kind of in-migration also deprives Welsh people of homes, in marked contrast to the old kind of in-migration which could result in fostering a household of proud Welsh speakers.
20 years – 25%. Those are the figures for Trawsfynydd. And with the current increase in the scale of the in-migration, the prospects for the coming ten years are very bleak.
I believe that the example of Trawsfynydd shows that opposing the current wave of threatening inmigration (as opposed to the natural in-migration of the past) is not a matter of being anti-incomers or of being hostile to variety.
Welsh, Irish, Scots, English. They came from everywhere to Stiniog and Traws during the building of Trawsfynydd and Tanygrisiau Power Stations, as well as the slate quarries. Their children were all Welsh speakers, thanks to the underlying strength of the local culture and economy at the time. However, there are so many English-speaking people in our communities (and bilingualism as well) that the incomers do
not have to learn a single word of Welsh. A new community is created alongside the native Welsh speaking community. An English language community. Real interrelation between these two communities is very limited, and the language of communication between those few individuals from both communities that do socialise is English. This is a natural result of the bilingual nature of the Welsh
speaking community. Nevertheless, it does show that the Welsh language and the native culture would be at a disadvantage from the outset, even without the terrible scale of the current inmigration. It is also disadvantaged due to the natural strength of the English language and culture.
Welsh speaking communities therefore face several obstacles, even when incomers and native people communicate. Many areas have complained that the language of Christmas plays at schools and Sunday Schools, as well the language of school governing bodies and parish councils, has changed to English, due to the presence of English speaking members. If schools cannot successfully assimilate children in
Welsh, then there is no future for the language. And if it is not possible to provide lessons, “Welsh welcome” evenings, culture classes, translation equipment and so on for those incomers who wish to take part in the activities of the community, then we need to take serious look at the credibility of our politicians.
Meleri Wyn Williams
29 Nottingham Street
I was raised on a farm in Cwm Prysor near Trawsfynydd and educated at Ysgol y Moelwyn, Blaenau Ffestiniog, and Coleg Meirion Dwyfor, Dolgellau. I grew up in a close-knit Welsh speaking community, and was an enthusiastic member of the local branches of the Urdd and Young Farmers Club in Trawsfynydd. Nowadays there is no Urdd branch in Trawsfynydd and the membership of the Young Farmers Club is falling every year.
It is 5 years since I left the area, and going back home is more often than not a sad experience. I am not sure of the statistics but more English is heard in the village and there has been an influx of incomers and their families from the large English cities over the last few years some have left but others have stayed.
The same is true of Blaenau Ffestiniog where organisations such as Tai Eryri are unable to stop this. Unemployment is a serious problem at home, and I myself have moved down to Cardiff. It is doubtful whether I would be able to pursue my career back home in the North. The slate quarries are dying, the power station has closed down, the Plastics factory pays a pittance, tourism is a seasonal industry and the
foot and mouth epidemic is another nail in the farmers’ coffin. Economic prosperity must go hand in hand with any regeneration of the community. Opportunities and employment would stop the outward migration. Things must change.
Llan Ffestiniog, Gwynedd
Enid F Williams
Heol yr Orsaf
1. There are currently 75 pupils at Bro Cynfal (Llan Ffestiniog Primary School) – 10
of these are non-Welsh speakers. The normal practice is for pupils such as these to
attend Ysgol Cefn Coch at Penrhyndeudraeth for a term to be immersed in the
language; this arrangement has proved effective. A further 5 non-Welsh speakers will
attend the school from September the largest group yet according to the headteacher.
2. Welsh is the language of Ffestiniog Town Council (which includes Blaenau
Ffestiniog and Llan Ffestiniog), with both the agenda and minutes prepared
3. Non-Welsh speakers run both pubs in the village. A young Welsh speaker, born
and bred in the village, runs our only shop. A non-Welsh speaking couple keep the
Post Office, but the wife is learning Welsh and apparently, she is making good
progress. A Welsh speaker owns the garage.
4. During the last few years a small estate of new houses was built along with a
couple of individual homes; all these houses are occupied by Welsh speakers.
5. A number of houses are currently for sale (I have not counted them!). They vary in
price from a very small house on sale for a reduced price of Â£25,500 to those priced
between Â£30,000 + and Â£40,000. Two were recently sold for Â£80,000+ to non-Welsh speaking families (the children of this family are amongst the 5 incomers expected to attend school in September). One house (a quite large old house) is on the market for Â£129,000 it is possible that this house will be bought by a couple, one Welsh speaking, the other non-Welsh speaking.
6. There are 627 registered voters. Of these 164 are non-Welsh speaking incomers,
and 12 (to my knowledge) of these are making efforts to learn the language some
making better progress than others. If some of the others are learning the language,
then they are certainly keeping it under their hat! Strangely enough, the percentage of
incomers on the voters register (26%) is lower than what it has been in the past – I
have counted them previously and found the percentage to be around 33%.
Bow Street, Ceredigion
Esyllt Mair Dafydd
11 Maes Afallen
A new housing estate was built opposite the primary school in Bow Street a few years ago. All the children from there were sent to the school opposite, and since then thereâ€™s been a great increase in the anglicisation of the village. A little further down the village thereâ€™s a field opposite our estate which has caught the eye of a number of people who want to buy it to build another estate!
When I left Ysgol Gyfun Penweddig two years ago there had been a big change since 1992. More things being done bilingually and less Welsh spoken. A number of my friends intend moving to Cardiff to look for work.
Y Blewyn Glas,
I was born and brought up in Carmarthenshire. My parents spoke Welsh and Welsh was the language of the home. I have chosen to live in a Welsh-speaking community. My two children were educated through the medium of Welsh, to university level in one case; the other studied at the University of Glamorgan where his course was not offered through the medium of Welsh.
Welsh in the Workplace
Although I have chosen to live in the ‘Welsh heartlands’, the language is no longer heard regularly on the streets of Carmarthen. It is true that one can join several organisations that conduct all their business in Welsh but we now have to go out of our way to do things Welsh. It is no longer the language heard naturally on the streets of the town. There has been a marked deterioration during the past two years. In
chain stores such as Currys, Gilesport etc, I have not come across any member of staff who could speak Welsh, although I always request a Welsh speaker. Can this be a coincidence or is it policy? Equal opportunities are important in all spheres of life these days, but not as far as the Welsh language is concerned. Equal Opportunities legislation should be amended to give Welsh speakers in Welshspeaking
communities the same rights as English-speaking in-migrants. Employers should have to ensure that the percentage of Welsh speakers employed by them should reflect the percentage of Welsh speakers in the local community. I believe that that is a very reasonable expectation. It was most encouraging to read in the current edition of Golwg that the new Chief Executive of the county believes that Council staff should reflect the 55% of Welsh speakers in the County.
I was interviewed for a post with an organisation that has a robust Welsh language policy. I know that this is so because I translated the policy. The chair’s opening sentence at the interview was, ‘You don’t mind this interview being conducted in English, do you, Megan’. I was utterly floored. I felt that I had been insulted as had my language. I wrote to complain later and received a letter which said that
interviewees would in future be allowed to opt for an interview in English or Welsh.
This brings me to another point. I know of many cases where, although it was claimed at interview by the interviewees that they had a sound knowledge of Welsh, on appointment the ability to speak and write the language disappeared into thin air. And it would be invidious to refer to those who promised before being appointed that they would learn Welsh who later conveniently forgot to keep the promise they had
I was shopping at Leekes one day. I failed to find a member of staff who could speak Welsh in the particular department I visited that day. There are Welsh speakers but I have the impression that the number is declining and they are cleaners rather than sales people. Since the assistant was having difficulty in writing my address, I offered to write it for her. She had a fit of giggles when she saw my address. She had never seen Carmarthen written in Welsh, or so she claimed. And she lives in Dre-fach,
ten miles or so from Carmarthen!
A small estate of some twelve houses was built in this village recently. There is only one Welsh-speaking family living there. What chance does the Welsh-speaking child have of keeping the language when there is so much English around? Why build houses if they are not needed locally? Most of the in-migrants are retired.
My daughter and her partner wish to buy a house in mid Wales. House prices rose 110% in the town over the past year; I have seen no reference anywhere to this fact.
They tried to buy a farm but although they increased their offer above the value of the farm, the farmer decided he would prefer to advertise the farm in London. Needless to say he has no previous experience of farming. No doubt his successor will also fail to become a farmer.
To sum up:
1. Equal Opportunities legislation needs to be amended to include equal language rights for Welsh speakers.
2. Employers should ensure that the percentage of Welsh speakers in their workforce reflects the percentage of Welsh speakers in the local community.
3. In-migrants need training to help them to settle in Welsh villages courses
need to be provided to help them learn Welsh and to understand that we have our own separate culture.
4. Housing must be provided for local people at a price they can afford.
5. The services provided should be of a similar standard in both English and Welsh.
6. Employers should be able to check the ability of potential employees to utilise the Welsh language in their work.
Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire
Cwyn y Gwynt
The Welsh language in declining in the town, in the schools and the shops. People insult the language without attempting to learn or understand it.
Gwenno Fflur Roberts
4 Caeau Gleision
Since thereâ€™s no shop or pub in Rhiwlas, and only some of the old people attend the two chapels (one of them has just closed and the land and the building have been sold cheap), thereâ€™s no community outside the primary school here. You rarely hear Welsh spoken by small children on the streets even though it may be that only a minority of them are non-Welsh speaking, Iâ€™m not sure. Most of the people of my age
(22) have left the village.
19 Padeswood Road
In the 1950s, Welsh was the language of my village, Gwernmynydd. A big housing estate was built there in 1971 and the village was anglicised by incomers from Liverpool. The same thing happened to us in Mynydd Isa, Broughton, Shotton, Connahâ€™s Quay. Beware, Gwynedd, the same change will come to you unless you watch out.
Iâ€™ve got three children between 6 and 3 years old and ever since the eldest was born Iâ€™ve had to make a point of asking for a Welsh-speaking Health Visitor every time the children need assessing. Since the Nursery Units have been set up in the primary schools, I feel that 7 years of age is too late to send the English speakers to the language units peripatetic teachers should be used to involve these children at 3
years of age.
Min y Don
Iâ€™ve had a monolingual English health visitor at the Pwllheli clinic to give an 8 month assessment to my daughter.
Since an English speaker took over the ownership of the post office, the language of conversation and gossip in that important centre in the village has turned to English.
At one time, 15 years ago, only two of the seven families in the council houses were English-speaking today, only one Welsh-speaking family lives there. The meetings of the womenâ€™s institute used to be all in Welsh until seven years ago: because so many
non-Welsh speakers attend them, theyâ€™ve become bilingual.
59 Cae Du
Iâ€™m a Pen Llyn girl with a generation of my family here. I believe very strongly in the Welsh language, and that local people should have their own homes. I live in Abersoch on Cae Du estate, and the housing situation here is terrible houses for sale at prices which are out of the reach of local people, houses empty for long periods, and on top of that more houses are being built. Throughout the winter, the estate is as if itâ€™s hibernating; as soon as the childrenâ€™s summer holidays come, youâ€™d think that Christmas had come early lights in every window in the evening, people everywhere. These should be houses for local people, not second homes for visistors.
My son is at Abersoch primary school which has an average of 25 pupils. Out of that total, only four families speak Welsh as a first language at home. Most of the lessons are spent teaching Welsh to the majority of the new children whoâ€™ve arrived. All credit to the head teacher who keeps the language strong her work gets more difficult every year.
Just a word about the shops: during the summer they raise their prices in the food store, until the number of visitors goes down. How does this help local people? They have to go to Pwllheli to buy the same things more cheaply. Unfortunately, I can only count a handful of shops which have Welsh-speaking staff. Two new clothes shops have opened during the last two months, in addition to the nine others that are here, which make the point that you shouldnâ€™t enter with less than a Â£50 note. What comfort is that to us on the wages we have in this area? These arenâ€™t shops for us.
The local pub no luck here. Iâ€™ve never heard a Welsh song on the juke box or a Welsh band singing here. Who wants to be in the middle of a crowd who stare at me as if I was in a foreign country? I prefer to go somewhere else and be able to speak my own language with someone from the area.
What enrages me more than anything is the empty houses which are used as second homes, their attitude towards us, as if they were looking down on us and wrinkling their noses. The visitorsâ€™ favourite saying at the moment is “We own this house and property” and itâ€™s becoming ever more popular amongst them. The words which would be music to my ears would be “Fi yw perchennog y ty yma”. (“Iâ€™m the owner of
this house.”) Something must be done about this flood of visitors who come here to buy houses as second homes, and about maintaining the Welsh-speaking community.
Until the 1960s Llanbedrog was a village full of life and activity but today there isnâ€™t a single Welsh society left except for some half dozen members in the three chapels.
Two thirds of the village are holiday homes or houses of in-migrants from England, and the prices of these houses are over Â£100,000 for a two-bedroomed property. A large number of houses were built in the 1970s and 1980s for incomers and these houses are far beyond the reach of any local person. In granting permission to build these houses, our local councillors were completely blind to the problem and
until very recently were not willing to do anything about it.
Thereâ€™s no work here so the local youngsters leave to go to Cardiff and the south in search of work. If nothing is done about the situation in the next two years, Llanbedrog will be a completely dead village for eight months of the year.
2 Bro Arfon
A number of new people with no wish to speak Welsh are moving into the cheaper houses. Oppressive attitudes, aggressive looks in the street as you greet people in Welsh. The eternal stress of having to see cultural damage done every day without a care in the world. The distaste of knowing that the main parties in the Assembly have agreed not to mention the murder of a culture which is going on under their noses.
1. The village hall at Y FfÃ´r, Pwllheli used to hold a Welsh community carol service
every Christmas until three years ago. It is now totally bilingual.
2. Pwllheli chamber of trade was monolingually Welsh until 18 months ago. It is now
3. Five village post offices have closed in the Llyn Peninsula during the past two
years itâ€™s a reflection of the decline in the local economy which means thereâ€™s outward migration.
Myrddin ap Dafydd
Iâ€™ve been travelling around primary and secondary schools to hold poetry workshops for eight years. Childrenâ€™s ability to handle words is crucial to their ability to take part in such classes. Iâ€™m now revisiting some of the schools in Llyn, MÃ´n, Dyffryn Conwy and Ceredigion schools which used to be naturally Welsh-speaking. The decline in the standard of spoken Welsh in these areas is atrocious, in a short period. This decline is not reflected in the SATS statistics.
Ten years ago the Christmas concert at Capel Garmon school was monolingually Welsh. There are a number of non-Welsh speaking parents in the village now, and a proportion of the concert has turned to English. The annual parents and governors meeting of the same school is now bilingual and the Welsh tend to speak in English as there is no translation service available.
The behind the counter service in the post office in Llanrwst has been monolingually English for the past three years, since it was privatised and lost the bilingual staff who used to deal with the public.
Here is a brief resume regarding the state of the language here in Cwmystwyth and some general observations on the influx of in-migrants.
At the end of the nineteen fities there were only two or three houses here where English was the language of the home. The floodgates started to open in the sixties and by the beginning of the eighties homes where Welsh was spoken were in a minority. Since then the situation has changed little. A further slight deterioration.
At the moment (and I have made use of the electoral roll to obtain the names of the houses) this is how things stand:
Homes where English is the language spoken: 30
Holiday homes (only one belongs to Welsh speakers): 20/1
Homes where Welsh is the language spoken: 13.
Six of those in the third category are farming families (1 farm only in the first category) and three other families are involved in agriculture. If it were not for the farms, Cwmystwyth would be an English village. I do not have details of Pontrhydygroes, Ysbyty Ystwyth, Pontarfynach, Trisant and Ponterwyd, but I understand that there is little difference in the percentages there.
And now for three general remarks on the influx of in-migrants a word which engenders great fear amongst political parties, unfortunately:
1. It is this influx that is killing the language. Economic factors and outward
migration are familiar fare. They were discussed ad nauseum by politicians
throughout the last century, with the efforts made to improve the situation being
intermittent and inadequate. There is no reason to believe that things will be different
this time. Yet in-migration can kill a Welsh community within twenty years, or less.
In the 7th August edition of the Western Mail the following words were attributed to
Cynog Dafis: “It is largely a problem of economic weakness and economic outmigation.” Incorrect.
2. In places such as Cwmystwyth, it would be quite unreal to speak of controlling the
housing market. There are scarcely two or three houses here that would not fetch at
least Â£100,000 at present. They are all well beyond the means of workers in the area
with a normal wage. From the point of view of the language, here and in similar
places, the focus must be on setting up a formal adult education system with the aim
of providing two types of courses, namely Welsh Studies (which would provide
general information about Wales) and courses for learning Welsh. They should be
based in a Community School which would serve a cluster of villages (here, for
instance, Pontarfynach would serve Trisant, Pontrhydygroes, Ysbyty Ystwyth,
Cwmystwyth and Ponterwyd) with a Tutor and an assistant, both members of the
Community School staff. This would be operated on a voluntary basis, of course, and
the students would be expected to contribute something towards the provision. The
term ‘areas of linguistic regeneration’ would have to be defined, and substantial
funding obtained from Europe and the National Assembly, as would college training
courses for tutors.
3. The situation is different in communities where the Welsh language is under threat but remains a force in people’s lives. Here job creation, managing the housing market and favouring local people as far as work and housing are concerned are all necessary. This is a challenge to the creativity of politicians and all the experts they are able to call upon. And there is a particularly pressing need for controlling in-migration. As a result, priority must be given to controlling housing; ensuring conditions that would allow local people to buy houses. Far more substantial
financial obligation are involved here than in case (2) but this has to be addressed if the country’s government wishes to defend and strengthen Welsh-speaking communities.
What is the cost of preventing genocide?
Seven houses sold to incomers with three being next door to each other.
As far as committees are concerned, one English speaker can change the language of a committee.
Tyddyn Andrew Uchaf
A Welsh family from Bethel have exchanged a council house with a monoglot English family from Manchester. They in turn drew family and friends and these stayed. It’s unbelievable that Cyngor Gwynedd allows this kind of exchange.
Ysbyty Ifan, Sir Conwy
Betws y Coed
[Second-hand Welshwoman, so to speak, as I was born in Switzerland, brought up in Germany and lived in England for thirty years; here since 1984.]
Here, in Ysbyty Ifan, we are fortunate that until now everything has been Welsh and in the medium of Welsh. But how much longer I do not know. The shop has closed since 31.7.1999; supermarkets rather than in-migration killed it. To alleviate the problem of being without a shop and therefore without a suitable place to meet and have a chat every day, a local girl who owns a dressmaking shop opened a post office for four hours a week. This is indeed a blessing. Until recently, in-migrants from England had little impact on the ethos of the community. But more arrived last year, and they are now ‘gelling’ increasingly. There will be two communities before long if things continue to move in that direction, and the fear that this will happen has begun to grip local people. The percentage of houses with English people living in them or being used as holiday homes has increased since last year. Until now, one only
of the holiday-home owners has shown an honest interest in tackling the Welsh language. I had quite a shock when I heard him greet me with â€˜bore da, bore braf!â€™, having learnt a little from tapes in England.
Sarah Marion Jones
I have just graduated, but there is no employment /salaries that correspond to my qualifications in the area. It appears likely that I will have to move to another area to get a job. I feel that all my peer group are leaving and moving to Cardiff and other cities. We do not even have the option of staying in our areas.
Name and address supplied
I work for a company that has been one the major employers in the town for 26 years, recently the company received a grant from the Welsh Development Agency to move to a new building. We moved to the new location some twelve months ago. In that time, the company has made several new appointments, but the majority of these have been given to monolingual English people, some of whom have been helped by the company with their relocation costs. One or two of them have retired to the area
or their partners have retired here.
Promotion within the company is an infrequent occurence, and no Welsh people are in a managerial position in the office; instead those of us who have given the best years of their lives to the company are pushed to the bottom of the ladder.
As a single person living in a council house there is no hope that I will be able to afford to buy my own house. A small three-bedroomed terraced house has just come on the market for Â£75,000 and on my salary I would never be able to get a mortgage for it. I would be more than happy to move from here, because the estate has deteriorated terribly over the last few years.
The rent of private housing also costs between Â£50 and Â£60 a week, which is out of the question. A few months ago a local house became vacant and it was let by Gwynedd Council to a couple that have just moved here from the Midlands and are running an old people’s home in Abersoch. How on earth did these people get enough points to be given a council house?
I believe it is high time that something is done before it is too late, and before the â€˜Cheshire Setâ€™ takes over and the area becomes a place for them to escape to at weekends or permanently.
2, Stad Ty Hen
I believe that the Housing Associationsâ€™ practice of locating non-Welsh speaking families in Welsh speaking villages is something which should be looked into as a matter of urgency. (For example, Cymdeithas Tai Eryri in Trefor in Gwynedd).
Statutory requirements are the probable reason for this, but bearing in mind the fragile nature of Welshness in our villages, is it not be possible to change the rules, or to prevent this from happening in particular circumstances such as this in order to safeguard what remains of our heritage?
Until now the town of Caernarfon has been one of the strongholds of the Welsh language (in all its varieties!) and is heard naturally on the street, in shops and in pubs. I am a town councillor, the meetings are held in Welsh and the minutes are bilingual. This is an improvement on the past in some senses but some of the Councillors continue to consider the Welsh language and its survival as something irrelevant to them.
Tai Eryri are blamed for the houses built on the Maesincla Estate (Cae Llwybr) and all the tenants come from outside the area. This has created serious bad feeling.
Unemployment, empty shops, crime and the strike at the old Ferodo factory are the current problems. These topics are, for the moment at least, discussed on street corners in Welsh. We need employment to keep young Welsh speakers in the town and to raise their standard of living.
Y Groeslon, Gwynedd
Relatively few new houses are built. The area is still in good heart a number of successful meetings held over the winter months by the WEA, Merched y Wawr, Literary Society, Drama Festival and the Urdd. A lack of young people to take over the reins when our generation (50+) becomes weary. Too many houses are let to temporary tenants (6 months or so). No identification with local society. Several villages nearby are significantly worse off â€” Bron-y-foel, Nebo, Cwm y Glo, are examples of social exclusion.
Every house that goes on sale in the area is bought by English people. The resources of social services and the health authority are used heavily by old people who have retired to the area. No shops or schools within three miles. Local families are unable to get grants to renew their homes or to build new homes in their own areas.
Y Rhiw, Gwynedd
Helen Wynne Jones
Tyâ€™n LÃ´n Fawr
Housing prices are dreadfully high in this area, making it impossible for local young people to buy them. Why doesnâ€™t the County Council buy some of these houses and let them to local families? Why are there no grants available to enable young people to buy these houses? Why doesnâ€™t the National Assembly do something urgently?
Cnwc yr Onnen
Local school, with around 80% of the children from English speaking or mixed language homes.
Aberporth Community Council, English is the main language, the minutes are kept in English
English people run the local pub. English people run the majority of businesses in Aberporth.
New housing is appearing in all villages in the area â€” Blaenporth, Aberporth, Tan-y-groes, Beulah, Blaenannerch, Penparc, Brynhoffnant. English people live in the majority of these houses.
Now it appears that Ceredigion Council is thinking of expanding these villages again â€” in addition to the increase foreseen in the Local Unitary Plan due to the intention to develop Aberporth airfield. A development which, it is falsely claimed, would solve unemployment in the area. But the aim is to increase the in-migration, and to deliver our grants (such as Objective 1) into the hands of outsiders.
Due to the nature of the village (quarrymen’s cottages, 2 bedrooms at most) local people do not buy vacant houses because (i) they are either too small or (ii) renovation work and costs are too high e.g. installing a toilet, bath in the house rather than outside.
This means that Housing Associations buy the houses (I know of 6 houses in a street of 9) and repair them and then let them to people with social problems from the area and beyond. The effect of this is that the street deteriorates immediately, forcing people living on either side to move. So in a very short space of time a street that was Welsh speaking turns into a street full of accents from Liverpool, Cheshire.
All my family’s ancestral property (where my aunt, grandmother, grandfather etc. used to live) in Pen Llyn have been sold to non-Welsh speaking people for an extortionate amount. My 4 year old daughter came home from school one day (some two months ago) saying that she did not understand the other children talking at school they were speaking in English. She had been made to feel a foreigner in her own village.
Wendy Maglonia Lloyd Jones
There are 16 houses along the road (LÃ´n Groes – a â€˜bywayâ€™ according to County Coucil vocabulary). Our family is the only Welsh family that live here permananetly now. 5 English families live here permanently. 7 houses are holiday homes owned by English people. Three houses are owned by Welsh people homes where the older generation have died and the younger generation have inherited the houses, and these houses are let to visitors in the summer. Our family is one of these. The local shop (in Bwlchtocyn) which used to be Post Office has also by now been sold to the English people who ran it.
Dinas Mawddwy, Gwynedd
Wyn ac Olwen Jones
(Wyn’s Family have been farming the area for nearly 1,000 years)
The strongholds of Cwmwd Mawddwy are its valleys. Dinas Mawddwy village has become quiet, as many English people have bought houses [as holiday homes]. The shop has closed, Menter Cymad’s offices are located there nowadays. The Post Office is in the Village Hall, thanks to the efforts of the Committee before Post Office Counters had an opportunity to close it down completely. Chapel membership has fallen as the older members have died, and not many young people attend. Over ten
years ago a family of incomers came to live here, and many followed in their wake, bringing their problems with them. Many of these people have not even tried to learn the language or tried to mix in with the life of the community. The beginnings of drugs problems can also be traced back to this time.
Farmers exist by diversifying into tourism etc. But there are limits to this. It is difficult for sons to follow their fathers into the industry because more often than not there is insufficient income from the farms for the parents, let alone the sons and daughters. Incomers can afford to buy our houses, with change to spare that they then live on, as well as building and altering buildings, and only after doing so do they ask for planning permission from the National Park! If a Welsh person did that s/he would be punished.
Here are some facts about my future in the Fro Gymraeg (Welsh heartland). It should be emphasised that the circumstances that I shall describe are not relevant to everyone, but they will be relevant to many. I’m not sure how to begin, but I hope that you can make sense of what I have to say.
1. I graduated from University some two years ago. According to research by the NUS the average wage of graduates in their first years after graduation is Â£16,000. It must be remembered that this figure is inflated because the average includes a significant number of graduates looking for work, and finding it, in the capital (Cardiff), English cities and south-east England. This figure therefore is certainly not applicable to Ceredigion and Wales. It is probable that the figure for Ceredigion is closer to Â£13,500, but it is difficult to confirm this.
2. I am very fortunate to have found work in Ceredigion that pays Â£16,000 a year. This is higher therefore than the perceived average for Ceredigion.
3. I have been advised by my mortgage adviser that as an individual graduate with a HSBC bank account, I could get a mortgage nearly 4 times my salary, namely Â£64,000. This sounds very generous and quite a lot of money.
4. The only houses I can afford in Aberystwyth within this price range, (that is houses available from Morgan Jones and Evans Bros) are very small houses or flats. If I was married and looking for a joint mortgage, I could get a house to the value of Â£80,000 maximum at today’s prices. Again this sounds good, but there are no family houses available at this price. There are family houses available (3 bedrooms) in Cwmann, near Lampeter, for Â£125,000, but the family would have to receive an income of Â£50,000 in order to obtain a mortgage on such a house.
Basically, income like this is not available to most families in Ceredigion, including myself. These banks also offer amounts such as the above on the premise that the individual’s career will lead to an improvement in their annual salary, but this is not the case here in Ceredigion. There aren’t many openings for such a career, unless one works as a teacher or as council officer, and general teaching staff do not receive much more than Â£23,000 a year.
5. Take one of the National Office of Statistics’ web pages. No reference is made on the page I saw to Ceredigion, but it does refer to Carmarthenshire. The average Gross Annual Earnings for Carmarthenshire is Â£18,730, (compared to Â£25,376 for Milton Keynes – and people in Milton Keynes are far from being the most well off!). This statistic takes into consideration professional people who have been working for years to reach the highest grades in their posts.
The G.A.E. in Carmarthenshire permits a potential mortgage of Â£56,217. Carmarthenshire is not all that different to Ceredigion, if anything matters are probably worse in Ceredigion â€” in fact, a letter in the Teifi-Side [newspaper] today suggests that the average salary in the south of the county is Â£10k! Again, enough to buy a small flat in Aberystwyth.
6. What of those people who have not received a university education, and who won’t get the pleasure of being offered a mortgage four times their salary by the bank? What if these people are a young family? Let us err on the generous side in our consideration. A young man receives an income of Â£15,000 (a generous salary for the County). A young woman is trying to raise the family’s first child, but is working part time. Add around Â£7,000 to the family’s income (that is the income for mortgage assessment purposes). This comes to Â£22,000. Suppose a maximum
possible mortgage of three times this amount = Â£66,000 including legal costs. And in common with every other mortgage and family is in addition to the costs of running a car and feeding the family. There are no family houses available in Ceredigion for Â£66,500.
If we place another burden on the shoulders of this young family, rent costs are currently higher than a mortgage. At the end of the day it is currently cheaper to buy a house and obtain a mortgage than to pay rent. How then is this young family expected to put down a substantial deposit on the house of their choice if a significant percentage of their income has to go towards paying an inflated rent while waiting to buy their house? It is impossible.
Llanddeusant, Ynys MÃ´n
Inward migration – Around half the pupils at the school cannot speak Welsh. When I was a pupil there (1988-1994) everyone at the school could speak Welsh fluently.
Outward migration Welsh speakers move to the towns to look for work. The number of Welsh speakers falls each year.
In a rural area like this, with no village nearby, only scattered houses, the effect of non-Welsh speaking incomers is dreadful.
People from afar move in to the area with plenty of money to set up a business and
buy a house. They get every support in the form of grants etc. from the county council, ‘Business Connect’, ELWa etc. in order to set up their business. Usually there is no consideration of local indigenous businesses. The number of customers remains the same, but the ‘cake’ has to be divided between more people. I have evidence of this in the printing industry in Llyn. There are three printing works in Llyn (family business or self-employed) they have not increased their number of workers for 10
years. During this period three different printing businesses have ‘settled here’ from over Offa’s Dyke, have used all the grants, have damaged local businesses and have moved away from here after failing to make a living. This represents a misuse of resources and damages the local economy.
Outward migration – Local business people are not able to employ new young people, for the above reason. Some say that we need an influx of money, people and ideas but not at this level of the economy.
Tele-working etc. should make it easier for people to work in rural areas, but from my experience of running communities facilities in Llyn what happens is that people moving into Llyn are already in work, but do not maintain any contact with the local community.
21 houses are owned by Welsh people
2 are empty
27 houses are owned by English people
6 houses have been sold in the last five years all of them to English people.
There is no village hall, so activities are centred around the chapel all of these are conducted through the medium of Welsh at the moment. Most of the houses cost over Â£80,000 smallholdings that now have planning applications with the Council for a swimming pool!! No new houses are being built. I am 40 years sold and when I was 10 I remember two shops here (none nowadays) and Welsh people living in 39 of the houses with another 10 houses either holiday homes or in ruins.
Nant Peris, Gwynedd
Llinos H Jones,
6 Nant Ffynnon,
I live in a very small village which has experienced a number of economic and social down-turns in the last few years. Most of the houses are empty throughout the year, or are holiday homes or mountaineering hostels good houses that would make ideal homes for local families. But once again, the prices of houses that are on the market are hopelessly high and a number of young local families have had to leave the village in order to buy a home.
Very few Welsh-speaking Welsh people live here today compared with, say, a decade ago. Thereâ€™s nowhere for the Welsh to meet except for the local pub, which is full of tourists/mountaineers/campers for most of the year. The village shop (which forms part of a large 8-bedroomed house) was closed because the (English-speaking) owners decided to go and live in Africa! The building is empty for 50 weeks of the year. There are a number of Welsh-speaking children in the village but they tend to speak in
English if thereâ€™s just one English-speaking child with them! Iâ€™d like to buy a house here but the prices are beyond my resources even though there are so many empty houses here. This is a disgraceful situation.
There are 85 houses in the village:
36 are owned by Welsh-speakers, or those whose children have learned the
13 are English homes; in-migrants from England.
23 are holiday homes which are empty for most of the year, including the former shop.
7 are hostels owned by rambling/mountaineering associations from England.
They come here during the holidays usually. One hostel near the church has received a substantial grant from National Lottery funds in order to renovate the building!
2 are second homes owned by â€˜localâ€™ people
2 are ruins
2 are empty throughout the year.
* One house has been bought by Manchester social services to accommodate young people with behavioural problems they are now a continuous cause of trouble in the village.
Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd
9 Brif Heol,
As you see, I live in Blaenau Ffestiniog and have always lived here. I would say that things have started to change here during the last ten years. English-speaking people are moving here, even young people with problems. The houses here are very cheap, about Â£14,000-Â£30,000. I and my friends have remained in our local area after leaving school and returning from college. We all have jobs in the area, thank
goodness, and speak Welsh. But thereâ€™s one thing that concerns me very much, which is that there are some here living in the area who rent out loads of houses to English-speaking people, and refuse to let to local Welsh-speaking people. This calls for our attention and it must be stopped now! It isnâ€™t fair.
42 Maes Gerddi,
Although I live in Porthmadog town, I am a member and elder at Ebeneser chapel, Borth y Gest, not far from the town. Thereâ€™s been no growth at all in the membership of Ebeneser because there are no Welshspeaking Welsh people moving into the village. There are a large number of holiday/weekend homes in Borth y Gest, owned by monolingual English people who have no interest at all in religion or culture
through the medium of Welsh. Itâ€™s true that some English people who have moved there are learning the language, or have learned to speak it, but they are in the minority. Thanks be for the teachers in the village primary school who do tremendous work teaching Welsh as a second language to the children.
John J Jones,
As a supply teacher who travels to teach in some of the traditionally Welsh-speaking rural schools in the villages of Ceredigion, I now notice more and more the effect and influence of the children of newcomers, some of whom have now learned the language but do not choose it as a natural medium, on the Welshness of the communities. The saddest effect is that these children have such a strong influence on Welsh-speaking Welsh people, so that the native Welsh people now speak English to each other!
Penmachno, Sir Conwy
SiÃ¢n Rhun Griffiths,
Our familyâ€™s farm is located in a wonderful area. Fantastic views in the heart of the countryside, and a short drive of about three quarters of an hour to a large town, Llandudno. Ideally, Iâ€™d love to live on the farm, but thereâ€™s one problem. The area is so popular that it attracts rich English-speaking people to live here. In the local primary school the only children who speak Welsh are my two cousins. So I wonâ€™t live
here because I donâ€™t want my children to grow up in an English-speaking community.
13 Golwg Tywi,
Although Iâ€™m from a Welsh-speaking family, I went to an English-medium high school because the school is opposite our house. Many of the teachers spoke Welsh, as did many of the pupils. There was enough opportunity to speak Welsh with the teachers, but not usually with the Welsh-speaking pupils because all their other friends were English-speaking.
Ours is a new street with about 7 Welsh-speaking families, 2 English-speaking. There are new houses being built, of the same type as the houses we live in, priced at about Â£100,000 + (4/5 rooms).
Cwm Gwendraeth, Sir Gaerfyrddin
Rhys Padarn Jones,
168 Neuadd Pantycelyn,
I live in Cwm Gwendraeth. I went to Maesyryrfa school, but the pupils speak far more English today than they used to whether thatâ€™s a result of in-migration, Iâ€™m not sure. There are many more Englishspeakers coming to live in the valley these days as well as a result, the Welsh atmosphere of the area is being lost. A few years ago it was possible for you to walk down the street and hear Welsh being spoken
around you these days, English is fast becoming peopleâ€™s first language. This is very sad, because this situation exists in one of the most Welsh-speaking parts of Wales Cwm Gwendraeth.
Eirlys Wyn Thomas,
Iâ€™ve lived in the Caernarfon area all my life before going to college, and itâ€™s true that the Welsh language is alive in the town itself and in the surrounding villages, but unfortunately up in the hills itâ€™s deteriorating. Many English people have come to live there in order to â€˜enjoy the viewâ€™ without trying to learn the language, and their children have the same attitude.
Robert J H Griffiths,
Cilfach y Bardd,
We now know that in-migration to Wales has had a huge effect on the standard of the language of our communities. Our language has become a subordinate language in many places. Developments like that here in Bodffordd must be stopped. They propose to build 22 houses for local people. The definition of â€˜localâ€™: those whoâ€™ve lived or worked on the island during the past three years. Thereâ€™s a danger here of
having those who commute to the county from English-speaking areas on the north coast, and from over the border from England. We should deal with the older houses which we have already, and have decent grants to make it possible to live in them. More and more English is heard on the streets of Llangefni and other places in Anglesey.
Bryn Aere Isaf,
After being on the market for many years, the local shop has been bought by a non-Welshspeaking family.
Thereâ€™s only one garage open there were four 10 years ago. Now thereâ€™s no garage which sells petrol and so on within 12 miles from Llanbrynmair in any direction.
The great majority of the children in the primary school come from non-Welshspeaking/English homes. These English people are very supportive of the language and the school. Without them, thereâ€™s a danger that the school would close.
[Llanbrynmair is a Welsh-medium school officially, i.e. only Welsh is used in the
early years until the child reaches 7 years of age.]
A number of families in the area take their children to Llanidloes (and other places) in order to avoid the Welsh-medium/bilingual education in Llanbrynmair school and Ysgol Bro Ddyfi.
Were it not for Laura Ashley and agriculture, youâ€™d have to go a great distance from here to find work.
Osian H Williams,
Swn y MÃ´r,
Iâ€™d like to draw your attention to the important issues in our area.
School children: At 8 oâ€™clock the children wait for the bus to go to the high school not
a word of Welsh. Half an hour later, the primary school children, and itâ€™s the same again English! I note that there are only two Welsh-speaking homes on the council housing estate. In the terraced houses – seven Welsh-speaking homes (out of 15). The situation is similar outside the village most of the cottages (especially those with a bit of land) are owned by English people. You often see a “Private Property” sign even though thereâ€™s a public footpath there!
I live in a rural area and am concerned at the deterioration of the Welsh language and the community, which is fast becoming alien to me personally. Only English people buy any house which is put on the market in our area, and my friends in the area have had to move to the cities in the east to get work. The result of this in the end will be a society of English-speaking retirees. Not the kind of place I would enjoy
living in as much as I have in the past.
I was brought up in the Trefeurig area, near the village of Cwmsymlog. Fifteen years ago there were one or two English households there. Now there isnâ€™t even one Welsh household in Cwmsymlog. I would like to be able to move to Cwmsymlog, but the house prices are terribly high, and thereâ€™s no work available to me locally. The village of Cwmsymlog has died as far as its Welshness is concerned, and the nearby villages,
Penbontrhyd-y-beddau, Banc-y-darren, and Penrhyn-coch are going the same way. We wonâ€™t be willing to put up with this for much longer. Rural communities, and the old way of farming, are dying.
Hefin Wyn Jones,
1999 – 2000: During this period there were about 10 houses for sale. Eight were sold to incomers, and two to local people. One new house was built by incomers.
2001: This year, I noticed that there were about eighteen houses for sale. Eleven of them were sold to incomers, and three to local people. There are four houses for sale at the moment. Most of the houses were sold in the summer. The new owner of one of the houses is quoted as saying of the the price of his house Â£42,500 “Itâ€™s a pittance”.
About five years ago, most of the houses in the village were being bought by young local couples, and the house prices were about seven to ten thousand pounds cheaper. But now itâ€™s difficult for local people to compete in the market, local wages being so low. Neither the Assembly, Parliament, the Member of Parliament or the Assembly Members appear to be doing anything to rectify the situation. They all
Twenty years ago, there were 12 in my class in primary school. Half of them have left the area. There are two local pubs, one owned by a brewery, and run by an Englishman, and one owned by local people who want to sell it.
There are eleven local businesses (e.g. post office, garage), and only one of them is run by English people. In the bank the staff are local. The majority of the pupils in the local primary school come from Welsh-speaking families, about 80%. All of the meetings of the various local societies are held in Welsh, apart from the Church, which holds bilingual meetings. Most of the newcomers are older people.
Mynydd Llandegai, Gwynedd
Wynne ap Iorwerth,
In June I retired from the armed forces after 25 years of service. My intention was to return to Wales in order to be able to live my life through the Welsh language. I was greatly disappointed to find how difficult it is to do that. In-migrants have moved into almost every area in large numbers. I moved first to Llandegfan, where I was greeted by one gentleman with the words “Oh you’re Welsh, we don’t get many of them moving in here”! In my childhood, that area was Welsh-speaking, but today English is the order of things there.
Whilst looking for a place to live I visited a great many estate agentsâ€™ offices in all parts of Gwynedd. I found that I wasnâ€™t competing against other Welsh people for property, but always against English people. Moreover, when I called by to look at properties, I found that the good houses with beautiful views in wealthier areas were everywhere in the hands of English people. Along the Menai strait, on Anglesey and in Snowdonia, the incomers have the best houses and the Welsh have to live on council
estates or in poor areas in disadvantaged circumstances. Itâ€™s a disgrace that these circumstances have arisen. Westminster has done a great disservice to our country.
I moved to Mynydd Llandegai a year ago, hoping to be able to live my life in Welsh, as the village is situated in a totally rural area at about 900 feet in Snowdonia. Most of the inhabitants here are non-Welsh speaking and the traditional local inhabitants were highly delighted to find that I was a Welshman. They were convinced that a non-Welsh speaker would buy ‘Ty Mawr’. The circumstances of this village are
very sad because of the in-migration.
Most of the houses here are small cottages and most of them are in the hands of in-migrants. As a result of this young people canâ€™t afford to buy the houses of their forefathers! They change hands for nearly Â£85,000 and one is for sale at the asking price of Â£106,000! The Welsh life and the Welsh language have almost been killed here by in-migrants.
I gave a talk in the village hall last year on the subject of my experiences at sea, when one of the incomers interrupted me and asked me to give the talk in English. I refused! As a result Iâ€™ve been congratulated many times by Welsh-speaking people. There must be a strategy for recreating Welshspeaking areas throughout Wales. From speaking with my neighbours, I know that the in-migration of non-Welsh speaking people into this area has created much tension. The incomers are very fond of emphasising their rights as they see them.
One of their tricks is to try and close public or traditional footpaths which cross their land. A friend of mine agreed to buy a house recently only to find, when he moved in, that incomers who lived next door had closed up a gateway to stop a footpath crossing their land. The same people have also now started to create a path across my friendâ€™s land in order to create a short cut for themselves. Elsewhere Iâ€™ve heard that incomers have declared that the public may not use one particular path without
asking their permission beforehand. Anglers on the rivers here are also concerned because incomers from Manchester and Liverpool are paying big money for fishing spots on the banks of our rivers and then preventing Welsh people from using them. I also heard recently of a mountaineering club from England which is trying to prevent local people from grazing animals on mountain pasture, bragging that their president is a barrister who is prepared to fight any Welshman prepared to oppose him.
This was a totally Welsh-speaking area when I was a child. The people who lived here were poor but the culture flourished. Because of in-migration, very little of the Welsh language is to be heard on the streets now. English is the language of the playing field, business, school, the church and so on. The incomers donâ€™t make the least effort to learn Welsh, but almost every one of them has a child who can speak Welsh, and because of that they believe that theyâ€™ve done their duty towards the language.
Crud yr Awel,
This is an advert from the Cambrian News Thursday, September 27, 2001. Sold on the internet Friday, September 28, 2001 as a holiday home to people from Cambridge. A For Sale sign was to have been put up in the garden on Friday evening! It was sold for the asking price, Â£89,950.
Things are getting worse in Pwllheli. I feel that non Welsh-speakers get a service in shops etc in their own language, without having to ask for it. Welsh speakers don’t. Here are three examples where I failed to be given a choice – all in one week (I only went to these people – I didn’t go to any other shop).
1) I went to Woolworth – there was an American lady at the till. No choice for me.
2) I went to H.S.B.C.. There was a non-Welsh speaking Welsh girl there. Every time she is there, I ask for a Welsh speaker, and normally, one is provided. This time, I asked once again but no one was available. The person who was meant to be with her was on the reception desk. Once again I had no choice. I wanted to ask questions about my account but I didn’t want to do that in another language. So, I didnâ€™t get the service that I wanted. Why should a non-Welsh speaker be there on her own, it happens
often. What about Welsh lessons?
3) I had a parking ticket and I went to the two policemen who’d given it to me, and spoke Welsh to them. Neither spoke Welsh. No choice for me, once again. I go to the ‘Savers’ shop fairly frequently and the staff speak English with one another. People who lack confidence and who are unaware are going to approach them and think that they don’t understand Welsh, and they’ll speak English with them.
Nefyn surgery: All the doctors speak Welsh – excellent. Unfortunately, there is one nurse there who doesn’t speak Welsh and she works Thursdays and Fridays. Once again, people aren’t given a choice. They have to speak English. What about Welsh lessons?
I don’t expect everybody that works in every shop to be able to speak Welsh, and that is because many of the shops are owned by English people. But in shops like Kwik Save, Spar, Woolworths, Savers, (chainstore shops) everybody ought to be able to. One very important point remaining – we must remember that everyone who has been educated in Pen Llyn recently understands Welsh. Everybody should speak Welsh with these people. If all the Welsh speakers did that it would become more normal to hear the language. I do this, but I feel uncomfortable because no one else does.
Delyth and Eleri Evans,
Nant Dwr Oer,
Beddgelert and District. (Nantgwynant and Nantmor)
The school: When I was at school in Beddgelert in the 70s, Ã¦ of the children spoke Welsh as their first language. I work there as a teaching support assistant, and feel downhearted because so many of the children speak English at home. Out of 39, only 12 speak Welsh at home. Though the majority of the 7-11 year olds turn to speak English with one another, the 4-7 year olds are far better at speaking Welsh
together. There are more children from Welsh-speaking homes than English-speaking homes due to enter the school. The parents who are learning Welsh are very scarce.
Shops: There are six shops in the village and only one is run by a Welsh speaker. The man at the post office is learning Welsh.
Hotels: Of the hotels and guesthouses in the village, one is managed by a Welsh speaker.
Chapels: The Independent and Methodist chapels in Beddgelert and Nantgwynant have closed. The Independent Chapel is partly a visitor’s centre, a technology centre and a heritage centre. At present, a group of local Welsh people have formed a company to turn Bethania Chapel, Nantgwynant into a multipurpose centre for the community. The Literary Society that flourished for over forty years has come to
an end, as has the local Eisteddfod. The only Welsh language activities are Merched y Wawr, where 3 members are very good learners; and the Community Council. The history society and the Community Hall committee are conducted in English, as the majority of the members do not speak Welsh.
Housing: Over the last twenty years in-migration has had a serious effect on the district and the Welsh speaking community has been weakened catastrophically. It is an exception to see a Welsh speaking family moving into the area. House prices are very high, the cheapest being Â£55-Â£60,000, and they are comparatively small terraced houses. At the moment a house in a block of six is on sale for Â£120,000.
This block of houses was built a few years ago on the site of the village garage. This was bought and demolished by an Englishman who succeeded in getting planning permission for these unnecessary houses. Three of them are holiday cottages. Another block of new houses has just been finished by an Englishman who has lived here for years – one house for him and four to be let as holiday cottages.
Despite local opposition they were built because an old planning consent was in place!
Name and address supplied
The village school is a Welsh medium school with 38 pupils at present. 15 come from Welsh speaking families. The problem arises when they have to choose to go into a Welsh or English class in Llanfyllin High School (a school with two streams). Some children from English speaking families go the Welsh stream but the majority don’t, even though they have had all their education to date through the medium of Welsh. But worst of all is when children from Welsh speaking homes go into the English medium class.
Five years ago there was one Welsh class and 4 English classes in the secondary school but by now there is one Welsh class and 6 English classes, in order to cope with all the pupils that travel from across the border every day. By now I feel that everything is in English unless you ask for it in Welsh. The new sign above the door sums it all up for me – Ysgol Uwchradd LLANFYLLIN HIGH SCHOOL.
The Community Council meets in English. Some of the members can speak Welsh but not the Chairman, and the situation has been like this for many years. No new housing has been built recently. There are no houses for sale in the village. The young women
tend to work as teachers or nurses, and the men are farmers or work in the factory in Llanfyllin. There are not many opportunities for other work, apart from working at the hotel.
I believe that there are 280 houses in the area. By now Welsh speaking families live in about 109 of the houses. There were only two people here who couldn’t speak Welsh fifty years ago. The number of young people who live in the area is very, very small. Only 42 children attend the local school, including the 12 in the playgroup. A few of the children from the school have spent time in a course in Llangybi school where Welsh is taught to monolingually English children at the age of seven. Despite that, the
language of their play is English. The social life continues even though the members of the various societies are becoming white-haired and fewer in numbers. As far as I know, only the Pensionersâ€™ Lunch Club tends to turn to the language of â€˜Our English Friendsâ€™. In-migrants are the owners of the overwhelming majority of the housing built during the last 25 years. I know of a couple 25 – 30 years old that are keen to buy a house, but the prices of the houses for sale are far beyond their reach.
Y Rhiw, Gwynedd
Examples of houses for sale here at present :
A 2/3 bedroom cottage in Rhiw with 1 acre of land Â£160,000
Bungalow, 3/4 bedrooms in Aberdaron Â£145,000
2/3 bedroom cottage with Ã¦ acre in Rhoshirwaun Â£79,500
3 bedroom house in Llangwnadl Â£97,500
3 bedroom in Rhoshirwaun with a little land Â£130,000
The prices are totally absurd and out of the reach of local people. Only people from England can buy them, and money has to be spent on improvements after that.
Houses too expensive for local people who are on low wages, or unemployed. Terraced houses from Â£45,000 upwards and houses around the village up to Â£100,000 and over! Nearly every vacant house sold to strangers and the overwhelming majority of these have an offensive attitude towards our language,
history and culture. One couple tried to insist that Welsh shouldn’t be spoken in the local surgery. My own daughters have suffered such things as; “Stop speaking that ridiculous language”, “Donâ€™t be so Bloody Rude, I donâ€™t speak THAT” and “Say it in English for Godâ€™s Sake.” Who is racist? All the local Welsh-speakers have all sorts of examples of this type of thing.
I live in a very small village, and even though villages like Abersoch and Llanbedrog were Anglicised about 10 to 15 years ago, it is during the last five years that the greatest effect has been seen on Garnfadryn. In the last 2 – 5 years the village has died on its feet in terms of the Welsh language and community spirit. In the year 2000 alone, four houses, where elderly Welsh people had lived until their deaths, came on the market. Small wonder that the houses went to retired English people. The shop has
already closed and there is talk that the Chapel will go the same way. I believe that what has happened recently is that houses in Abersoch, Mynytho, and Llanbedrog have been filled by English people and that people are beginning to discover other houses in places like Rhiw, Garnfadryn, Bryncroes and Tudweiliog. Penrhos can’t help being such a beautiful place, but I feel that it will die as a Welsh community if houses are not available for young people. Anyone who has walked through Aberdaron on
a winter’s day knows that the situation is a heartbreaking one.
Rhosybol, Ynys MÃ´n
Having been a pupil at a secondary school for 7 years I have seen a considerable deterioration in the use made of the Welsh language, and ultimately have seen the English speakers reviling the Welsh language completely. Specific examples – being called “racist” because I insisted on having Welsh language performances in the school Eisteddfod. The local chip shop, until recently, stopped staff from speaking
Welsh. Attending meetings of “Young Voices” in the Assembly – monolingually English.
Llanfechell, Ynys MÃ´n
Name and address received
Some estates in the village with about 90% English people living there. English people keep the local shop – the language of conversation is changing. Most of the pupils in the primary school are not Welsh speakers – the language of the yard is English. Welsh speakers in the area’s secondary school suffer racism because we are Welsh. Any Assembly Member or newspaper (such as the Daily Post) is welcome to come to our school so that they can see what real racism is about.
The Sunday School concerts are bilingual nowadays. No one knows anyone, in the past everyone knew one another – the rural community has long since disappeared. Unnecessary housing being built. There is a house near to my home that has been built needlessly. No one has ever lived in it. The house is on the market now for Â£175,000 (far too expensive for local people) A local company that employs tens of
people in the area tried to get planning permission for new offices – the County Council refused permission. There is a huge need for employment here, but despite that the council refuse planning permission that could create a few necessary jobs. Every house that’s for sale here is sold to English people.
Elinor Mair Davies,
Even though there are many English speaking homes, the school is bilingual and the children are educated in Welsh only until they are 7 years old. The Community Council meets in Welsh, as well as the Sheepdog Trials committee, the Flower Show committee, the Hall etc. There is a lot of in-migration into the area but the Welsh speakers are holding their own, despite being so close to the border. English people run the local pub, but the local shop is run by Welsh speakers (my parents), farmers who are diversifying. A lot of diversification is going on in the area, but recently I have noticed that Welsh farmers are buying the local businesses, for example the shop and the occasional local pub. About 20 new houses have been built recently. Young people live in them, mostly. The demand for housing is high.
I was born in Nantmor, leaving to go to college, and then working away. So here is a comparison between those days and the present.
1940 – 2001
Farms 19 – 8
Welsh people on the farms 19 – 3
Farms that became vacant 0 – 11
Welsh people living there 3 – 0
English people living there 3 – 11
Welsh people in local houses 25 – 8
Number of new houses since 1940 – 12
Holiday cottages in the village 12
Houses with English people all year round 16
Private housing in the area 13
Halls/manor houses in the area 3
(7 holiday cottages, 5 with English people in them, 2 with Welsh people in them)
All the halls/manors owned by English people.
Therefore, here is an outline of the enormous decline in the Nantmor district, that was a very cultured area, with two chapels with 150 members, whilst today we have one chapel with 14 members. There were also night classes, eisteddfodau and a good feeling of neighbourliness.
Emlyn R Roberts,
I was worried when planning permission was granted in my village about four years ago. The houses were being sold before they had been built, and not even a local sign to say they were for sale. Eventually, there were more and more people aged 65 to 75 around the village. No children, no language, but their own little community, like a â€˜Brooksideâ€™ for the elderly in a little village in North Wales. It’s worth coming to the pub on a Tuesday night just so that you can hear the accents.
Y Fron, Gwynedd
Lari Parc, Christine Jones, Elan Thomas,
2 Bro Arfon,
Housing survey – Y Fron
This was conducted during October, 2001, by Christine and Elan. Advertising a Welsh course, we visited every house in Y Fron and we asked people if there was a demand for a course and offered them one. The language of the response indicated the language of the residents, if you assume that a monolingual person turns the language of the home into their language.
Welsh response 41
English response 63
Empty houses 2
Non Welsh speaking Welsh 2
Llaneilian, Ynys MÃ´n
Gwynne Morris Jones,
A need for housing?
At the moment there are about 1700 houses for sale on Ynys MÃ´n. In addition, permission granted over five years ago to build houses has been safeguarded (with the most trivial work carried out on the sites but not completed) making a total of about 1000. In addition, of those granted during the last five years there are about 350 houses with permission but that haven’t been completed.
1700 houses for sale
1350 houses with permission but not completed
The Unitary Development Plan forecasts that the number of houses with families will remain stable from 2001 to 2016, with the population falling by 6,180. Therefore there is no need to build any additional new housing over the period covered by the unitary plan. It would be better to improve the present stock, and, perhaps, convert some of the old farm buildings to create new houses. On the other hand, if economic growth is shown on the island and there is a need for more housing for workers, then the Unitary Plan should contain an element of flexibility to allow a few new houses in response to the growth.
The causes of in-migration.
As there are a number of empty houses on Ynys MÃ´n at present – either for sale or rent, this attracts people to the island, particularly from England. There are two types of in-migrants:
1. Retired people, who are able to sell their homes in England for a substantial sum and buy an equivalent house for nearly half that price in Anglesey, with even that price being out of the financial reach of local people.
2. Information has been received that offices in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham target some of their clients – the unemployed – to move to North Wales, where there are enough places to rent and they are cheaper than the cities. Hundreds, if not thousands, have moved to this area but without any hope of getting a job – only a more pleasant place in which to be idle. Were it not for the excess housing stock, the in-migration would not occur to the same degree.
The effect of in-migration.
1. A reduction in the population growth because of the high number of elderly people, including the in-migrants, that have retired here. These will not produce children!
2. The number of Welsh /Welsh speaking people that live in the Llaneilian area has declined by about 20% in the last ten years.
3. The local shop and post office has shut
4. In this area of the parish, 30 houses have just been built to add to the original stock of 60. Of the 30, 18 have families from outside Wales living in them.
5. Only 3 local young people have remained here to work.
6. There are 6 houses for sale. Prices from Â£70,000 to Â£230,000.
7. My children (4) all work /live in England or abroad.
8. In this area there are about 50 Welsh speakers and 110 people who do not.
The weakness of Ynys MÃ´n County Council.
My personal opinion is that Ynys MÃ´n, Dyffryn Conwy and Gwynedd should re-unite to form one County Council in order to co-operate to develop the area in a far more effective way than exists at present. The quality of the councillors and the officers in Ynys MÃ´n isn’t good enough, as has been demonstrated over the last 5 years. By creating a stronger county, you would have more effective use of financial resources and a more attractive Career Development system to encourage better quality staff
into the county. With a unified voice from this Welsh speaking area and everybody working together in the same direction to protect our language and culture, there would be more hope of the language continuing far into the future. Also, economic development would be in better shape, with everybody in Gwynedd co-operating to create work in the area. At the moment Ynys MÃ´n and Gwynedd are competing with one another to attract jobs.
When I was at Llanbrynmair Primary School there were around 70 pupils in the school. Only a handful of them came from English families, with the majority coming from Welsh speaking homes. In my year, only three children out of fifteen or so came from families where the parents werenâ€™t natural Welsh speakers. By today, the situation has been reversed only a handful of the children in the school come from Welsh-speaking homes. In-migration is responsible for this.
Go to any estate agentâ€™s office in the area and look at local rural house prices thatâ€™s
the only evidence you need. The prices are far beyond the reach of ordinary people in the area, and often beyond the reach of well-off local people as well!
Comins Coch, Ceredigion
It was announced last week that Dai Lloyd Evansâ€™ County Council (formerly Ceredigion County Council) intends to proceed with the building of 6,500 new houses in Ceredigion. Comins Coch is an English area, and why is that? Because of the Estates that have been built in the village Comins Coch is a microcosm of the situation throughout Wales. 50 years ago in Comins there were probably only around
5 farms in the vicinity of the village, but now two estates have been built, and the Welshspeaking community has disappeared. Many non-Welsh-speaking couples have moved to the village, and it is unlikely that these couples will learn Welsh we
need a property act to ensure that villages such as Comins wonâ€™t be treated like Butlins for the elderly (from England) from now on!
Anna Wyn Jones,
Cefn y Maen,
With great anticipation, I enclose the following few details to try to give a fuller picture of how it is here in this small corner of Eifionydd. Thank you all for encouraging us here to try to do something. Itâ€™s a sad picture, but by addressing it we can begin to take action. I hope that it will be of some assistance to understand the full picture.
1517 electors (February 2001)
Merched y Wawr W
Womenâ€™s Institue E
Mothersâ€™ Club E
Bowling Club W & E
Sewing Club W
Gardening Club E
Dinner Club W
Historical Society E
Anglers Society W, but discussions in English because 2 are non-Welshspeakers!
Businesses/Shops Owner Salespeople
Butcher E 2 W
Baker W 3 W
Baker W 5 W
Fruit / Fish W 5 W
Fruit / Fish W 1 W
Pharmacy W 1 W
Toys W 1 W
Electrical goods E 1 E
Post Office W 1 W, 1 E
Antique Furniture W 2 W
Shoes W 1 W, 1 E
Hardware store W 1 W, 1 Learner
Foodstore W 3 W, 1 E
Clothes W, Irish 2 W
Pet Shop W W
Spar E W, E mix
Florist W W
Evangelical E E
Crafts W W, E mix
Carpets W E
Chapel/books/documents E E
Fish and Chips E 1 W, 1 E
Ice Cream W 2 W
Ice Cream E 4 W
Picture framer E 1 W
Food and various W speaks English E
Barber W W
Newsagent W 3 W
Newsagent E 1 W, 1 E
Welsh Housing Office W W
Insurance Office W W
H.S.B.C. Bank W W
Dentist E W
Surgery 2 W, 1 E
Day Centre W W
Hairdresser 2 W 5 W
Hairdresser 2 E 2 W, 1E
Plumber 2 W
Electrician 2 W
Builder 2 W
Funeral Director 2 W 3 W
Painter 5 W
Plants Centre 1 E
Caravan Parks 3 W, 1 E
Lake Fishing 2 W
Solicitor 1 W 1 W, 1 E
Taxi 1 E W
Taxi 1 W W
Restaurant 1 E 2 E
Restaurant 1 W, 1 French W
Restaurant 1 W from Canada W
Restaurant 1 W W
CafÃ© W W
CafÃ© W W
CafÃ© E Mix
CafÃ© E Mix
Public House E W
Public House W Mix
Public House W W
Guesthouse W non-Welsh-speaking Mix
Guesthouse E Mix
Guesthouse W, E W
Guesthouse E E
Car Repairs W W
Car Retailer W Mix
Lifeboat W W
Nursing Home W W
Nursing Home E Mix
Nursing Home E Mix
Tennis / Squash E
Golf Club Mostly Welsh
There has not been a football field for 30 years or so. There is no youth club this year.
I was very disappointed with the results of my research into the 2001 electoral list, seeing them in black and white. I was under the impression that the situation was much healthier as I can live my life without speaking English when I socialise and do my shopping in the street. As you can see above, the situation in the shops is very positive. What worries me most here in Cricieth is how do we get so many people
who are able to speak Welsh to actually communicate in Welsh. They insist on speaking English to friends and acquaintances. Around 150 young people and adults in Cricieth are guilty of this. Itâ€™s also disappointing to see that only a few of the young people do their shopping in the local shops. I really donâ€™t know how the smaller retailers keep their heads above water. Most of the young people prefer to travel to Caernarfon and Bangor to do their shopping. Going through the electoral list, one sees
a kind of linguistic pattern in relation to the houses. Most of the council houses are homes to Welsh people, as are the terraced houses. A mix of English and Welsh people live in the larger single-storey houses, and the detached houses. Here in Cricieth there are no houses available for those who are starting out, especially with the incomes available in this area. There are no houses here under Â£65,000, and
whatever is put on the market goes within a month.
Agriculture has for centuries provided a solid foundation for the Welsh language to flourish. Welsh families married into other Welsh families and the children were brought up Welsh. This meant that the proportion of Welsh-speaking children in the schools was maintained – but not any more. We canâ€™t depend on them if the agricultural industry is in disarray. Everything is connected to employment. And
while Iâ€™m at it, if the local and county councils permit proposals to build supermarkets in every town, there wonâ€™t be any shops or barely anything left in communities and what will we do then? It will be too late.
Thank you for your time.