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Cymuned’s Strategy 2006/2007

April 26th, 2006

[Here is the speech to the 2006 Annual Conference in which Aran Jones, Cymuned's Chief Executive, outlines the Pwyllgor Gwaith's strategy for the coming year.]

You’ve already heard about what’s happened in the course of this last year, but now I want to put a slightly different slant on it all for you, before presenting the strategy we are recommending for the year to come. You have heard about, and seen, the events of the year just gone as though they were part of a list – but it’s important that you also see them as part of a pattern. That is to say, not only what we have been doing, but why, and to what end. Although stories in the papers can sometimes make it look as though we respond from week to week to whatever is happening, that is not the reality of the situation – we have been trying to build something, as I will do my best to show to you now.

Before I start, I’d like to make the point that I’m including the visual presentation on this screen very largely against my will, so great is my inherent fear of this kind of technology – so I’d like to ask for your forgiveness in advance if one or two things go wrong with it – and if that does happen, I already know who I’m going to be blaming, and she knows very well who she is!

Two and a half years ago, when I accepted the request to serve as Chief Executive for ‘a month or two’, if someone had asked me to describe Cymuned, I would have answered with a few words about demanding fair play for local people, about housing problems, work problems, and language problems in the Fro Gymraeg. As regards the basic elements of the movement, how it worked, who did what exactly, on the Pwyllgor Gwaith and outside it, I wasn’t really that clear. I suspect that many of you here today aren’t always very sure about such matters either.

But you have to have a clear structure to build a successful movement, and by now the Pwyllgor Gwaith is in united agreement on a number of very specific ideas about the nature and structure of the movement, and how to get the best out of the work we all put in.

We see the movement as made up of four parts. First of all is the membership – we have to win new members, keep in touch successfully with existing members, and create a pattern whereby every member can see something clear and achievable for them to contribute to the work of the movement.

Secondly, actions and lobbying – the work of promoting and popularising our ideas. For this, we need clear, consistent ideas and a long term strategy to develop and present those ideas.

Thirdly, our community work. This has been a part of Cymuned from the very beginning, with members going out to knock on doors to ask new arrivals to learn Welsh, and then providing the lessons and running the courses for them to do exactly that. This is the constructive, positive work which gives a practical base to our political lobbying.

Fourthly, the boring but vitally important work of dealing with the Press, and making sure that what we are doing reaches a wider audience than our own membership alone.

You might think about them as four wheels, and imagine the movement as a car – remove one of them, and things would get pretty rocky – remove two, and we wouldn’t get anywhere. For Cymuned to be successful, for our ideas and wishes for the Fro Gymraeg to come true, we have to make sure that each of the four wheels is turning properly.

A great deal of the work which has been done in the last year has been about strengthening these four wheels – filling them with air, if you like that metaphor! I’ll explain now exactly what that has involved, in the hope that seeing how our car works you will also see how best you can take part in the work of driving it.

Membership. That was the first step, and the most important in many ways. The monthly newsletter has been running for over a year now, and you’ve already heard my calls for contributors – far too often, the language in the newsletter has been faulty, because I write far too much of it. Now, I do believe that I have some things to offer Cymuned, but as a second language speaker of Cymraeg, linguistic accuracy is not one of them, for which I can only apologise. In any case, we now have a number of excellent contributors becoming involved, but I still want you to feel sorry enough for me to volunteer to join their ranks.

The monthly newsletter is a very important link, and I have no doubts at all but that it has played a central part in keeping the movement alive. We have also developed a weekly email – a weekly email had been circulated previously, but somewhere between not enough people having email addresses, and turnover amongst our voluntary staff, it had come to an end. We are now using purpose-built software to run the weekly email, and are seeing an ever increasing percentage of new members with email addresses. Only a few months into the life of the new weekly email, we are already distributing to over 500 people, and that number is rising constantly.

We have also been updating our main website, cymuned.org, which now contains every press release we send out, as well as a number of other kinds of discussion – go and visit it, and you will see a clear picture of what is going on with the movement.

There you have the improved communication with our members – by now, there is no reason for anyone who is interested in our work, member or not, to fail to know exactly what we are doing. It’s not just communicating better with our existing members that we need to be doing, though – we also have to win new members, and succeed in showing them how best they can make a contribution. A reasonable contribution, a contribution which doesn’t eat up their entire lives, but a contribution which makes a real, valuable difference.

We have started winning new members through the websites I mentioned earlier. We are promoting these websites with cheap little stickers, and the occasional online advertisement, and badges like those you saw at the door – at 50p each, why not buy one at lunch time for your bag or your jacket? Once a visitor arrives at one of the websites (and with names like NotEnglish.com and Saesneg.com, they tend to stick in people’s memories!), they are encouraged to sign up for the free weekly email. Once they do that, we ask them if they would be willing to put up the occasional sticker, and an increasing number of them are agreeing to do just that. With the stickers we then send out to them, of course, they also get a membership form – and so the movement keeps on growing.

Look at the process – not only is the movement growing, but the new members and supporters have been given a simple piece of work to do which makes them feel part of something. That feeling is exceptionally important.

So there you have membership – attract people who are interested in our work, build a link with them, give them a small piece of work which also helps attract more new people, and keep in contact so that they hear about what we are doing from week to week. It’s starting to spread – not only in the Valleys, but further away – we’ve had new members from Ireland and America in the last fortnight alone.

That, if you like, is the first wheel, or even the engine, of the movement. It is membership which creates the cash flow that enables us to run an office, to run campaigns, to publish booklets, and to attract more members.

But as we have already agreed, membership alone, in and of itself, isn’t enough – one wheel, or an engine with no wheels, is good for precisely nothing. We have to translate the strength of our membership into real work.

Community work is the second wheel. We have been promoting community land trusts for some time now, and a number of our members have started community land trusts in their own areas. We are developing an information pack that will show how to do this, and what help is available – and we have seen this idea begin to spread, to a point where even the political parties are beginning to talk about it. Part of the draft manifesto for Plaid Cymru mentions the need for a community land trust unit in the Assembly, something which we would be delighted to see.

Our work with the Cymuned Business Network also has important implications for us. This is already drawing people in to support us who would not previously have considered Cymuned worth talking to. The work of promoting local businesses is work in which any member can play a useful part, and as we develop the network over the coming year, we will begin to suggest specific work to members who would like to be involved on that side of things.

Successful community work in its turn helps to strengthen the next wheel, which is actions and lobbying. By pulling the carpet out from underneath the tiresome old complaint that Cymuned ‘just says no to everything’, we strengthen our arguments considerably. Cymuned does not stand against economic development – not at all. We are simply determined to see that its advantages come to the local community and thus the language also, and we are involved in showing exactly how that can be done.

So, the third wheel – actions and lobbying. This is where the major developments of the next year will be. We have been lobbying at Assembly level recently, and the Pwyllgor Gwaith will continue to do that, but we have also lobbied very successfully at county council level. The Pwllheli Marina campaign was one of Cymuned’s most significant victories thus far, and it shows us clearly that we are far more effective at lobbying local councillors, who live amongst us, than the far-away politicians in Cardiff Bay.

That in itself would perhaps be a cause for disappointment, were it not for one remarkably important point. Some of the most important decisions of all with regards to the future of the language and our communities are in the hands of our county councils. Councy councils make the planning decisions, county councils are amongst the most important employers in every county, particularly in the Fro Gymraeg, county councils set the education agenda, and county councils set the agenda with regards to public signage.

Some commentators have accused Cymuned, over the last two years, of being ‘without a strategy’.

We might as well accept that, at times, they have been entirely correct.

We have, as I said a moment ago, been lobbying at Assembly level on some important points for the future of the Fro Gymraeg, but it is not always easy to gain attention in the press for that kind of work, and on a local level we have indeed tended to respond to events rather than to set the agenda ourselves. From today on, that changes.

By launching our new booklet, ‘Cymricising the Council – Gwynedd’s Lessons and Ceredigion’s Future’ in Aberaeron a week ago, we stated clearly our intention of starting a new campaign in Ceredigion – a campaign to improve the levels of bilingualism in Ceredigion Council by requesting them to adopt Gwynedd’s best practice language policy. We will be working to set up a Campaign Committee in Ceredigion over the next six months, and to continue with the co-operative work we have already started with Cymdeithas yr Iaith and Plaid Cymru. That is the first county campaign.

We have been raising the need in Gwynedd for a simple, clear answer to the housing problem. The work of providing affordable housing is very important, but against the entire momentum of the open housing market, it simply doesn’t have enough effect. We now have a workable pattern to suggest – the decision of the Yorkshire Dales National Park to permit new building only for local need. That is the answer that has been needed – it doesn’t shut anyone out, because the existing housing market remains available, but it does create a local, sustainable housing market which has no choice but to be affordable to local people. A house which can only be sold to local people cannot set a price above what the local market can afford. We have already received enough volunteers to set up a Campaign Committee in Gwynedd to request the council to adopt this policy.

We also have enough volunteers in Sir Gâr to start a Campaign Committee, with the intention of calling for the same housing policy as we are asking for in Gwynedd, and also of opposing the proposed gas pipeline which is forcing people to sell land for a pipeline which will be taking 100% of its contents to England, without any benefits whatsoever for Cymru.

Do you see the pattern? Local campaigns in the counties of the Fro Gymraeg which contribute directly to building the Fro Gymraeg from the bottom up. We will continue to lobby the Assembly, to develop the political concept that votes are available for whichever party will do a real job of protecting the future of our Welsh-speaking communities, but the local work, the county campaigns, will be going at it to build the Fro in the here and now.

We are also eager, once the work has been done of developing the campaigns mentioned above, to begin an education campaign in the Fro. Not to call for bilingual education – others are already doing that, and doing it well. We want to emphasise the unacceptably damaging impact of English-medium schools in the Fro Gymraeg – in other words, schools with pupils from Welsh-speaking communities which fail to provide their students with the necessary linguistic skills to play a full part in their own communities. This has got to be stopped – Ysgol Ffriars in Bangor and Ysgol Penglais in Aberystwyth are not only denying their natural inheritance to children in the Fro Gymraeg, they are also creating an unjust and dangerous social division.

Three campaigns in four counties? Or more, if it turns out to be possible (as looks likely at the moment) for us to start a Campaign Committee in Sir Ddinbych. Three campaigns in five counties, then – and every one of them winnable. I’ll come back in a few moments to some of our other structural developments, but there, to all intents and purposes, you have the strategy that we want to build on the back of the internal development work that has already been completed.

The fourth wheel, then, is dealing with the Press. This is where our most significant victories were in the early days – we had leading members who were extremely talented in the field, we had a remarkable early growth of membership and ideas we wanted to share, and for two years the name Cymuned could be seen almost everywhere. But the actions lessened, the numbers in the rallies started to decrease, and eventually the Press realised this. That’s where we are today – with a few exceptions, the Press has effectively decided that Cymuned isn’t ‘news’ any more.

But when the other three wheels are turning properly, there will be no choice but for the fourth to begin again. We will not be winning a name for ourselves based on ideas or press releases, however successfully presented – we will be making a name for ourselves with successful, popular and obvious work, with campaigns that make a measurable difference to the future of our communities. Campaigns that will build a future for us, and our children, and our children’s children.

I’ve mentioned a number of other things – weekly emails, membership websites, stickers, campaign committees – but there’s one other new thing yet to mention. Some of you may have looked at the pattern of membership websites, emails, stickers, membership, campaign committees, the Pwyllgor Gwaith, and seen a kind of ladder – and that is our intention. But there’s one rung missing – between new members and the campaign committees. That’s why we will be setting up Information Stands everywhere we can manage.

The information stands will promote the membership websites, they will ask people to sign the local campaign petition, they will sell T-shirts and badges and, of course, they will distribute membership leaflets. They won’t create tension, as the picketing could sometimes, and we won’t need huge numbers to run them, either. We don’t want to see anyone committing more than one Saturday morning a month – if we get teams of four running an information stand once a month, part of their responsibility will be to encourage other people to volunteer to help with the stall. Once eight volunteers are available, we will be able to run the stalls once a fortnight – and we will only need 16 in order to have an information stall on the streets of the local town every Saturday. Think of it like this – if you could find 3 people, and each of them could find another 4, you would already have enough to run an information stand in your local town every week.

The campaign committees will do the work of corresponding with the council and the local press, of arranging occasional local publicity stunts, and of arranging a social night once every three months for everyone who helps with the stalls and the committees, in order to strenghten the natural community networks that grow out of working in co-operation with other people who are determined to create a better future for us all.

That, then, is the complete ladder – to think of it through the eyes of someone new to the movement, they will see a sticker or banner somewhere, go to a website, subscribe to a weekly email. Later, they will offer to put up stickers themselves, and then to become a member. Once they have become a member, they will receive an invitation to help with their local information stand, and through that they will come to know other volunteers in the area, including members of the campaign committee. In due course, it won’t look so intimidating for them to offer to help with the campaign committee – and by gaining experience there, the step onwards to the Pwyllgor Gwaith won’t look as far away as it does to a new member today.

That is the mechanism we are building. That is the engine, the structure that will push the movement, and our campaigns, onwards. And that, I hope, is the structure that every one of you here today can see a rôle for yourselves somewhere within it – as volunteers on a stall, or putting up stickers, or sending letters, helping with campaign committees or with the Pwyllgor Gwaith. The vehicle is ready and waiting only for you. You are the ones who have to drive it.

As some of you know already, I’m not one for emotional, romantic dreaming – I’d much rather see exactly what needs to be done, what I can do today to make a better tomorrow. Put a poster up, write a letter, arrange an action, that’s what I like doing.

But if you will allow me, I would like to ask you for a moment to look beyond the details of the mechanism and think about our new strategy as a whole. I would like to ask you to imagine that the clock has moved on five, or ten, years, and that we have succeeded with the three campaigns in the five counties. In Môn, Gwynedd, Ceredigion, Sir Gâr, Dinbych – heck, we might as well throw Conwy in for good measure – in every one, the public sector is administrated internally through the medium of Welsh, in every one there is an affordable housing market for local people, in every one the schools are all succeeding in helping their students to become fully bilingual citizens.

Imagine driving around those counties, on the roads we know so well today – perhaps some of those Welsh-speaking councils will have decided that their public signage should be in Welsh only (as in the Gaeltachtai in Ireland, or the Islands in Scotland, or Basque Country). Everywhere you go, you will see Welsh-speaking people with good quality work, with houses in their own communities, and the children in every school chattering away naturally in Welsh.

Wouldn’t that be the Fro Gymraeg?

We don’t need to wait for the Assembly. We don’t need to change the Labour Party. The answers are at the level of our county councils, and Cymuned’s greatest successes have been in lobbying the county councils. Our new future begins right here, right now – we have what is needed to build it.

But to achieve that, to make real the beautiful future we have all just seen in our minds eyes, we have got to be prepared to work. Specifically, every one of us must decide two things – where in the mechanism we can best contribute, and how to go about encouraging other people to get involved, so that we can fill this vehicle that has been built for us, and turn it from a car into a bus, into a train, into a great ship that will carry us the whole way to the Fro Gymraeg.

The members of the Pwyllgor Gwaith have already challenged themselves with this – their work for the year is to spread the word. The mechanism is ready and waiting – we only need to fill it. The Pwyllgor Gwaith has accepted the responsibility of encouraging other people to help with the campaign committees – now, if you will respond to the challenge to spread the news about Cymuned this year, to find people who will help with the information stands, with the campaign committees and the Pwyllgor Gwaith, with promoting the websites… and if you yourselves will help with stickers, stands, your local campaign committee or the Pwyllgor Gwaith…

If you respond to that challenge, in a year’s time we will all be able to see that the car is moving, faster and faster, down the road towards the Fro Gymraeg. I beg you to respond to this challenge – for utterly selfish reasons. Simply put, I long to live in the Fro Gymraeg. I long to know that I can raise a family who will speak Welsh, who will be able to afford houses in our own little community, who will receive the priceless inheritance of our language and culture. I have spent my life wandering the world, looking for something – looking for home. I know now where my home is – and I am so close to reaching it that my heart bleeds. My home is in the Fro Gymraeg.

Come. Answer the challenge. Volunteer for the information stands and the campaign committees. Spread the word.

[To offer help with Cymuned's work, please email cymuned[at]cymuned.org]

Declaration of the Fro Gymraeg

March 16th, 2006

proclaimed on the 23rd October 2004 in Machynlleth, Powys

Preamble

Whereas every human being is of equal worth and value;

Whereas there is within the human race a great and rich variety of language, culture and nationality; and all languages, cultures and nationalities in the world are of equal worth and value;

Whereas every nation, whether large or small, has the right to exist in its own proper communities and territory, without having to suffer colonisation; and no nation has the right to colonise the communities and land of another nation;

Whereas racism (namely oppression on grounds of race, that is physical characteristics, rather than or in addition to nationality, language or culture) is utterly repugnant;

Whereas colonisation (which happens when migrants refuse to integrate into a new country, but instead impose their own language, culture and identity on the country to which they migrate, assimilating and/or displacing the indigenous people) is a form of theft and therefore a crime, and is a form of racism (namely colonial racism) since colonisation and racism are inextricably linked, both historically and at the present time;

Whereas many of the world’s indigenous languages, cultures and nations are in danger of extinction (‘ethnocide’) and others are already extinct, mainly as a result of colonisation and colonial racism;

Whereas this process is a threat to the common heritage of the whole of humanity as well as that of individual nations, and is therefore a crime against humanity;

Whereas Cymraeg (the Welsh language) and its parent Brythoneg have been the indigenous languages of Cymru (Wales) for around 2,500 years, but it is now only in Y Fro Gymraeg that Cymraeg is a community language;

Whereas Y Fro Gymraeg, its communities, its language and its culture now face extermination and ethnocide due to colonisation and the loss of much of its indigenous population, in common with many of the world’s other indigenous peoples;

Whereas the declarations of the United Nations and the Council of Europe recognise the right of indigenous peoples not to suffer ethnocide, to retain their traditional lands and their identity, and to be protected by their governments; and that these rights are an integral part of the international framework for safeguarding human rights;

Now, therefore,

We solemnly proclaim the following declaration:

Article 1 – Y Fro Gymraeg exists as a distinct region and areas of Cymru, namely those parts of the traditional territory of the Cymry (Welsh people) where the majority of the indigenous population and a third or more of the total population are able to speak and understand Cymraeg.

Article 2 – We fully support all efforts to restore and popularise Cymraeg in other parts of Cymru (and we also support the Welsh culture of those regions which is expressed through the medium of English or other languages), but we believe that the survival of Y Fro Gymraeg is indispensable to the survival and development of Cymraeg in the rest of Cymru and as a national language, and to the survival of Cymru as a nation.

Article 3 – The people of Y Fro Gymraeg have the right to retain it as a region and areas whose particular and proper language is Cymraeg, where Cymraeg will be the official language, the natural language of the community, the main language of administration and commerce and all other aspects of life, and the common language amongst in-migrants and between in-migrants and indigenous people; and they have the right not to suffer colonisation and loss of the indigenous population.

Article 4 – The people of Y Fro Gymraeg (including those indigenous people who are not able to speak or understand Cymraeg) have the right to social justice, which includes homes, work and livelihoods, together with education and other services provided through the medium of Cymraeg, within communities whose language is Cymraeg.

Article 5 – ‘Normal in-migration’ (which happens when migrants of any origin, extraction or race respect the language, culture and identity of Y Fro Gymraeg, learn and use Cymraeg and integrate into the community on that basis) is fully acceptable in Y Fro Gymraeg, and can further enrich our multi-racial and inclusive Cymraeg-speaking society.

Article 6 – No-one has the right to colonise Y Fro Gymraeg, whether intentionally or otherwise; such colonisation is a colonial-racist act and therefore a crime, as are encouragement and support for colonisation; and denying, opposing or undermining the existence of Y Fro Gymraeg and its communities are also colonial-racist acts.

Article 7 – The people of Y Fro Gymraeg have the moral right to oppose colonisation and the loss of its indigenous population, and to oppose policies and actions which further these processes. Such opposition is in solidarity with other indigenous peoples throughout the world who are suffering as a result of colonial racism. This is not a conflict between nations, but rather between two ideologies, namely colonial racism on the one hand and anti-colonialism/anti-racism on the other..

Article 8 – We oppose totally all forms of racism; we declare that all human beings are of equal worth and value, whatever their race and physical characteristics; and we declare that Y Fro Gymraeg is a multi-racial and inclusive region and areas whose particular and proper language is Cymraeg.

Article 9 – We declare that it is the responsibility of everyone in Cymru to do that which is within their power to ensure the survival of Y Fro Gymraeg and its communities..

Article 10 – We demand that the Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru (the Welsh National Assembly Government), the United Kingdom Government, the European Union and all other relevant bodies support this declaration, recognise the existence of Y Fro Gymraeg and its right to continue to exist, accept their moral responsibility to protect it, and take such action as is necessary to fulfil that responsibility.

Best Practice for Estate Agents

March 16th, 2006

Code of Ethical Practice for Estate Agents

1. Ethical Responsibility

1.1 Businesses have the same ethical responsibilities towards others, towards the community and towards the environment, as individuals and governments. As Paul Hawken says: “The ultimate purpose of business is not, or should not be, simply to make money. Nor is it merely a system of making and selling things. The promise of business is to increase the general wellbeing of humankind through service, creative invention and ethical philosophy.” (The Ecology of Commerce, New York, 1993, pp. 1-2).

And Robert C. Solomon says: “The purpose of the corporation…is to serve the public, both by way of providing desired and desirable products and services and by not harming the community and its citizens…when the demands of doing business conflict with the morality or well-being of society, it is business that has to yield, and
this, perhaps, is the ultimate point of business ethics.” (‘Business Ethics’, in Singer, Peter (ed.) A Companion to Ethics, Oxford, 1991, tt. 361-4).

1.2 Estate agents should acknowledge, therefore, that they have an ethical responsibility to Welsh-speaking communities (together with other communities in Wales and elsewhere), to enable them to continue to exist and to retain their identity as Welsh-speaking communities.

1.3 This responsibility entails:

· endeavouring to ensure that local people are able to buy and to rent houses in their communities and neighbouring areas;
· endeavouring to ensure that everyone from outside who buys or rents a house in these areas, is aware of the Welsh language, culture and identity, respects them, and is prepared to learn Welsh and to integrate into the community;
· endeavouring to ensure that the number of people from outside who buy or rent houses in these communities is reasonable, so that they can integrate into the Welsh-speaking community (‘normal immigration’) rather than forming a separate community or assimilating the indigenous population (‘colonization’).

2. Practice Procedures

In order for estate agents to fulfil their ethical responsibility towards Welsh-speaking communities (together with other communities in Wales), they should adopt the following procedures:

2.1 Information should be given about the Welsh language, Welsh-speaking communities and why people should learn the language, together with contact details for courses, with all information about houses on paper and on the internet, and in replying to all enquiries from outside the area.

2.2 Houses for sale or to let should be advertised as follows:

· for the first three months, by sign outside the house, details in the local office / offices, and advertising in the local newspapers only.
· houses should not be advertised on the internet, nor in newspapers or publications outside the area*, nor information sent to people outside the area unless specifically requested, for the first three months.
· after the first three months, houses could be advertised more widely if the seller wishes, but should continue to be advertised locally as well.
· there should be no advertising to solicit people to sell their houses to those from outside the area.
· there should be no advertising to solicit people from outside Wales to buy houses in Wales.
· all advertisements and information about houses should be in Welsh or bi-/multi-lingual (Welsh together with English and/or other language/s).
· details of houses in Wales should not be exhibited in estate agents’ offices outside Wales.*

Definition of ‘local’ / ‘the area’: within the same unitary local authority area (treating Gwynedd as two units i.e. Caernarfonshire and Meirionnydd, and Powys as three units i.e. Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire and Brecknockshire), together with the Welsh unitary authority areas immediately contigious.

*Except when the nearest town and office is in England, i.e. Chester suburbs, and areas contigious to Oswestry and Whitchurch (within 10 miles), in which case houses could be advertised in the local office of that town and its local papers, in addition to the local offices/papers in Wales.

2.3 The selling price of houses should correspond to the average price of similar houses in the same town or community council area during the previous three months. Prices should not be set at a higher level, nor sellers encouraged to do so, with wealthier buyers from outside the area in mind.

2.4 Estate agents should not take part in developing or marketing speculative housing
developments for which there is no local need.

2.5 Other estate agents should be encouraged to follow this code of practice also.

Cymuned’s response to the HomeBuy scheme

March 16th, 2006

Welsh Assembly Government
(attn. John Bader, Director of Housing)
Cathays Park
Cardiff
CF10 3NQ

Dear Mr Bader,

I write in response to the Minister’s invitation to Cymuned to make further input to the Department’s review of the operation of the Homebuy Scheme.

1. House Prices and Loan Limits

You will recall that when I wrote to you in July, Cymuned was concerned at evidence that the level of need for the Homebuy Scheme was being underestimated, because people on low incomes were deterred from applying for assistance on realising that the loans available were insufficient to bridge the gap between their incomes (and their mortgage-repayment capacity) and the current price of housing in their area.

The results of our continuing enquiries confirm that such a pattern is at work in those areas where house-prices have been inflated beyond the financial means of a large proportion of the local population.

2. Lack of Public Awareness of the Scheme

Our latest enquiries have revealed another major cause for concern, in that in some counties, publicity for the Scheme has been so limited that many potential beneficiaries of the Scheme were completely unaware of its existence until Cymuned members drew their attention to it.

We had been aware since the summer that at least one local authority (Powys) was not operating the Homebuy Scheme at all. We are given to understand that in at least one other local authority, the reason given for not publicising the Scheme is that the funds available for it are so limited that officers of the authority and local housing
associations are reluctant to raise the public’s hopes and then disappoint them.

It is clear that the result of variations in the practice of different local authorities has been to create something of a postcode lottery in relation to the operation of the Homebuy Scheme, with significant variations in its availability to people in similar financial and family circumstances, depending on which county they live in. Cymuned
takes the view that this is a fundamentally inequitable state of affairs.

3. Variations in Demand

It also appears that there are significant variations in actual demand for the Scheme between different counties. We gather, for example, that although the Scheme was available in Flintshire in the last financial year, there were no applications for assistance, and that applications in Denbighshire were few.

It has also become clear that there are considerable variations in demand within individual counties. It is more and more evident that the greatest need for the kind of assistance the Scheme provides exists in those areas where house price escalation is driven by external demand — that is, by the purchasing power of relatively wealthy
buyers from outside the areas concerned. In Gwynedd, these areas include popular coastal and rural areas such as Llþn, Eifionydd and the Meirionnydd Coast.

Gwynedd also, of course, includes areas where average houseprices are not high by contemporary standards: these include the postindustrial (and partially rural) districts of Blaenau Ffestiniog and the Nantlle Valley, where there is still a significant quantity of poor quality housing stock whose prices remain low. The principal housing problem in these areas arises from the activities of private landlords
who purchase such stock and attract into it people on low incomes or benefits, from outside the areas concerned, with the promise that the poor quality of the housing will make it easy for them to access Council House waiting-lists. This process is leading to a shortage of public rented housing for local people.

It also appears possible that demand patterns are influenced by the quantity of public rented housing that has traditionally been available in a particular area. In districts where this was extensive in the pre-Right to Buy period, public aspiration seems to be rather more towards acquiring rented accommodation, and less towards owneroccupation, than in areas where a larger proportion of the population have traditionally been owner-occupiers (it has been suggested to us that this pattern is visible in, for example, both the town of Caernarfon and the village of Penrhyndeudraeth). I must emphasise that this remains only a hypothesis at this stage, and we would like to suggest that specific research be undertaken into the matter.

In some areas, the house-price crisis is artificially prolonging the period during which younger people remain part of the parental household, with all the restrictions that this may entail in respect of developing their own family life. In Ceredigion (where starter homes, even of the poorest quality, now command asking-prices in the region
of £60,000), a pattern appears to be developing whereby a significant proportion of the younger indigenous population either remain resident in the parental home — up to around age 40 in some cases — with the use of a car, or rent flats in towns without being able to afford the use of a car.

4. A Case Study: the Conwy Valley

There follows a summary of information gathered over the last few weeks by members of Cymuned’s Conwy Valley branch. Enquiries were concentrated in the rural villages of Eglwysbach, Llangernyw and Pandy Tudur. A total of 22 individuals or couples in their late 20s, currently searching for affordable housing in these
villages (which are the villages in which they grew up), were interviewed.

None of those questioned were aware of the existence of the Homebuy Scheme until approached by Cymuned members, despite the fact that the Scheme is operative in the area (albeit on a restricted scale, because of the limited funds that Conwy County Borough Council feels able to earmark for this purpose from the Social Housing Grant
available).

In Eglwysbach, all of the 17 individuals or couples interviewed have employment in the area; however, 8 of them have had to move out of the district into rented or shared accommodation in other districts, because of escalating house-prices in the village. The dislocating effect of such a level of out-migration on the long-term continuity of community life surely needs no underlining. Of the remainder of those
interviewed, 4 are living with their parents — one of them in a domestic garage that has been converted into a flat; 2 are renting flats in Eglwysbach; and a further 3 share a rented flat in the village.

In Pandy Tudur, the cheapest house recently available cost £76,000, and in Llangernyw prices ranged from £89,000 to £120,000 — far beyond the means of the individuals or couples interviewed. There is in fact no shortage of housing for sale in Llangernyw: the problem is that road communications with the A55 Expressway, 10 miles away, are of sufficient quality to enable numbers of people on considerably
higher incomes than those of local people to commute daily to and from Chester or Manchester. A typical consequence is that a twobedroomed bungalow whose asking-price was beyond the reach of most local people was considered a ‘bargain’ by its purchasers, from the Chester area, who have made it known that they would have been in a position to pay double the price.

5. Conclusions

i. It is clear that in districts where house-prices have been severely inflated by external demand, there is a level of need for assisted housepurchase schemes such as Homebuy that the current level of funding for such schemes is simply not meeting; and Cymuned remains firmly of the opinion that (a) the quantity and proportion of Social Housing Grant funding available for use in the Homebuy Scheme, (b) the
maximum level of loan available to individual families, and (c) the maximum house-price level for which a loan can be given, all need to be increased substantially in the relevant districts. The further increase in funding for Rural Homebuy that has just been announced is obviously to be welcomed; but we feel that it is once again unlikely to be enough to plug the funding gap that exists.

ii. It is also clear that there are significant variations in the problems experienced from district to district, and that financing the Homebuy Scheme on the basis of global Social Housing Grants for whole counties is not necessarily the most appropriate solution. We feel that the Homebuy Scheme needs to be more specifically targeted at the districts where extensive need for its particular provisions exists,
and that there is a need for more concerted research to establish which districts these are, and exactly what the level of need is, before overall Social Housing Grant is determined for the individual local authorities concerned.

iii. Cymuned also remains firmly of the opinion that the inconsistencies between local authorities as regards the operation of the Homebuy Scheme are unacceptable, and that the Scheme should now be administered in a consistent manner across Wales — either directly by the Assembly, or according to much tighter and more
comprehensive Assembly guidelines.

Hoping that the above will prove a useful contribution to the Department’s
current deliberations, I remain

Yours sincerely,

Wyn Hobson
Executive Committee Member

International support for Cymuned

March 16th, 2006

International Petition of the Welsh Assembly Government and United Kingdom Government

Cymuned gave evidence to the United Nations’ Working Group on Minorities in Geneva at the end of May 2002. After giving evidence, members of Cymuned held informal meetings with international bodies.

The bodies named below agreed to sign the following petition calling for the protection of Welsh-speaking communities.

I call upon the Welsh Assembly Government and the United Kingdom Government to affirm that Welsh-speaking communities are an important aspect of the multinational, multicultural and multilingual society of Wales and the United Kingdom.

In recognition of Article 27 of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in recognition of The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, I ask the Welsh Assembly Government and the U.K. Government to affirm the rights of Welsh speakers as a linguistic minority. I also request that the Welsh Assembly Government and United Kingdom Government act in the spirit of this Declaration and take steps
to ensure the survival of Welsh as a community language.

Finally, I request that media figures, politicians and other public figures belonging to the English-speaking majority of the United Kingdom cease and desist from slandering the Welsh-speaking minority and cease and desist from activities which threaten the survival of this minority community.

Enw/Name — Mudiad neu Sefydliad/Movement or Institution

Abdi Abdulahi Hussein – Pastorlist Concern Association of Ethiopia
Sister Cecily Plathottam – World Forum of Fisher Peoples [ 1]
Solainge Pierre – Movimento de Mujeres Dominco Haitiana [2]
Lucía Dominga Molina de López – Casa de la Cultura Indo-Afro-Americana [3]
Vjolca Demiri – Association for Democratic Initiatives Macedonia
Teody A. D. Lotto – Sudanese Women’s Voice for Peace
Kalee Leenhiavu – Quaker Service in Laos
Ramiza Sakip – Organization of Roma Youth, `Anglunipe’,
Almira Nerissa Agra Andin – KAMP-Nal Federation of Indigenous Peoples, Philippines
Sanjeeb Drong – Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum
Mistry Malika Babasaheb – Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, India
Rianne Letschert – Netherlands School of Human Rights Research
Elina Stamou – Sikh Human Rights Group
Chiara Biscaldi – Pax Romana (Int. Catholic Mov. for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs)
Jacopo Giorgi – ” ”
Amarendra Roy – Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Communities in Switzerland
Mohamed Casim Sabat – Indian Muslim Federation, London, U.K.
Gulam Hakor – ” ”
Larissa Bitkaeva – Centre for Inter-ethnic Cooperation, Chechnya
Cecilia Thompson – Independent Scholar
Masataka Okamoto – Fukuoka University, Japan
Nyang’ori Ohenjo – The Centre for Minority Rights Development, Kenya
Adolphine Byayuwa – Union pour l’émancipation de la femme autochtone [4]
Silis Muhammad – All for Reparations and Emancipation [5]
Ida Hakim-Lawrence – ” ”

[1] The signatory comes from India
[2] For the rights of the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic
[3] For the rights of peoples of African descent especially in South America
[4] Working for the rights of women
[5] In the United States of America.

Cymuned’s presentation to the United Nations

March 16th, 2006

At the end of May 2002, Jerry Hunter from Penygroes gave evidence to the United Nations Working Group on Minorities. The evidence was well received. The Working Group Chairman remarked that it was of significance to the international community. A situation existed, he said, where “some people could afford two or three houses, and others have none”, and the whole subject of in-migration has “particular significance for the disintegration of language communities.”

Submission by Cymuned
The Commission on Human Rights
Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Human Rights
Fifty-fourth session
Working Group on Minorities
Eighth Session
27-31 May 2002
Geneva, May 27/31, 2002

Thank you Mr. Chairman and Members of the Working Group,

My name is Jerry Hunter. I am a citizen of the United States of America, and a former lecturer at Harvard University. I currently lecture in Welsh at the University of Wales, and I represent the NGO Cymuned, a group which campaigns on behalf of the Welsh-speaking minority of Wales in the United Kingdom.

Introduction

I would like to draw your attention to the problems faced by the Welsh-speaking minority of Wales and the fact that one of the most fundamental rights of Welsh-speaking communities is being threatened: the right to exist and the right to continue to exist.

Welsh speakers have been oppressed in a variety of ways since the conquest of Wales in the late middle ages, including the legislative relegation of the language to a secondary status within Wales and the practice of the `Welsh not’ in the 19th century, which led to beating children for speaking their native tongue in school. The discrimination was less brutal and obvious during the 20th century, and the U.K. Government made some legislative amends by passing Welsh Language Acts in 1967 and 1993 which removed some of the official stigma formerly placed upon the language. However, the weight of past centuries’ injustices and a failure to make this minority language truly equal in all spheres of Welsh life has meant that the language continued to decline.

A little over 500,000 people speak Welsh today, or about 18% of the three million people who live in Wales. As Wales is part of the United Kingdom, and as the total population of the U.K. is now estimated at around 60 million people, it will be seen that those who speak Welsh constitute a very small minority within the greater state in which they live, being less than 1% of the entire population of the United Kingdom. A combination of social and economic factors, aided and abetted by governmental inaction and a lack of political will, is now threatening to destroy this linguistic minority completely.

Welsh is being undermined as a community language by three factors: an outward migration forced by poor economic conditions; an in-ward migration of people who do not speak Welsh; the failure of the vast majority of in-migrants to learn the language. The negative pressures brought to bear upon Welsh as a community language during the past decades can be graphically demonstrated by referring to the geographical area of Wales with a Welshspeaking population of 80% or more. In 1961, 36.8% of the geographical area of Wales reached this mark. By 1971, this had declined to 27.4%. And by 1981, this had gone down to only 9.7%. Subsequent statistics and analyses show that a similar decline continues. If the combination of negative factors which are now arrayed against these communities is not addressed and checked, then it is believed that Welsh as a living community language will be exterminated.

And there is every reason to believe that the destruction of Welsh as a community language will lead to ultimate and total destruction of this minority language. Perhaps the leading expert on invigorating minority languages, Joshua Fishman, has made it clear that a language must be kept alive at community level in order to survive:
Instead of being the language of linguistically isolated families [the minority language] must also become the language of interfamily interaction, of interaction with playmates, neighbors, friends and acquaintances. Via demographic concentration, those who [...] are organized only on an individual family basis strive to attain an even higher form of social organization: beginning with family they attain community.’

It is exactly this demographic concentration which is being undermined in traditionally Welshspeaking communities today. In discussing native American languages, James Crawford notes several `social changes’ and `dislocations’ which can undermine these minority languages, and at the top of his list he places: `Demographic factors [:] In- and out-migration.’ He states safeguarding
community space as a crucial factor in ensuring a language’s survival, noting the
specific example of California, `a state that [...] refused to establish [...] space for language communities to regroup’, a neglect with serious consequences: `It is no coincidence that indigenous tongues in California are among the most endangered in the U.S.A.’ In short, all research indicates that minority languages must be able to live at the community level in order to survive.

Statistics clearly show that Welsh as a community language is being undermined. One of the indigenous languages of the United Kingdom is being threatened with extinction, and thus the multinational, multicultural and multilingual society of the United Kingdom is being threatened. Moreover, the minority of people who speak Welsh as their first language are being denied the right to continue as a distinct cultural and linguistic group.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, states in the Article One, Clause One, that:
“States shall protect the existence of the national or ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and shall encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.” And in Clause Two, it adds that: “States shall adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to achieve these ends.” Given the obvious lessons to be learned from statistics regarding the condition of Welsh as a community language, it is clear that the Welsh Assembly Government in Cardiff and the U.K. Government in London are not acting in full accordance with Article 1 of the Declaration. Instead of using appropriate legislative and other measures to encourage and nurture this minority community, the Welsh and United Kingdom governments are allowing a combination of social and economic factors to erode the language and deny Welsh-speakers their fundamental right to continue to exist as a
distinct group within a multinational, multicultural and multilingual United Kingdom.

Furthermore, Article 27 of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that `linguistic minorities [...] shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture [...] or to use their own language.’ As the facts provided by official surveys such as the census clearly show that Welsh is being undermined as a community language, it must be said that politicians in Wales and the United Kingdom are ignoring the responsibility placed upon them by Article 27 of the International Covenant.

An Analyses of the Problems

1) outward migration

Welsh-speaking communities are economically disadvantaged. They constitute some of the poorest parts of the United Kingdom, and, indeed, some of the poorest parts of Western Europe. In addition, statistics also demonstrate what academics define as the `cultural divide in the workplace’, with Welsh speakers tending to occupy lower-paid jobs, especially in the private sector. Census figures also show that people who don’t speak Welsh (and who moved into these areas) are proportionally over-represented in professional, supervisory and managerial employment categories, while Welsh speakers are over-represented in the unskilled and semi-skilled categories. This means that many Welsh speakers can not stay in their communities and are forced to seek employment elsewhere.

2) inward migration

Wales is a very beautiful country and it thus draws a great number of people seeking to enjoy its mountains, sea coasts and rural landscapes. This is a clear example of rural in-migration, a phenomenon which has been acknowledged in a report commissioned by the European Commission.

Many of these `life-style immigrants’ who move into rural Wales come from much wealthier areas and much more privileged economic backgrounds in England; as a result, the prices of local houses are out of proportion to the local economy, and local people are priced out of the houses in their own communities. This increases the pressure on Welsh speakers to leave their communities.

In addition to forcing young Welsh speakers out of their own communities by economic means, this in-migration has another negative effect on the minority language in that very few in-migrants actually learn Welsh. In a recent survey, 66% of non-Welsh speaking in-migrants to Welsh-speaking communities said they did not feel inclined to learn the language. Statistics regarding language classes show an even more disheartening picture: one recent study showed that in the old county of Dyfed, only 1.7% of the non-Welsh speaking population were registered on Welsh courses. Studies also suggest that, out of that small 1.7%, about 90% will not follow through and continue the language course.

In addition to placing the indigenous population of Welsh-speaking communities at an
economic disadvantage, this rural in-migration is overwhelmingly constituted by individuals who can’t or won’t attempt to learn Welsh. As a result, this minority language is being undermined and Welsh-speakers are being increasingly denied the right to use their language in their own communities. History has witnessed the forced movement of peoples used as a weapon to undermined minority cultures. Rather than being a governmental-lead movement of peoples, what we are seeing in Wales today is a demographic shift allowed by the government’s refusal to regulate the housing market. Unfettered capitalism is thus allowing this movement of peoples to destroy Welsh as a community language.

Dr. Michael Krauss, former president of `The Society for the study of the Indigenous
Languages of the Americas’ and director of `The Alaska native Language Center’ has
described this kind of lack of political will as `brutishly [...] allowing “survival of the fittest” to prevail over human rights in this manner, even though as human beings we are also supposed to be endowed with reason and the ability to control our impulses and plan rationally for the future.’ In other words, the government is `brutishly allowing’ wealthy individuals and businesses who are not part of the minority community to exercise their economic might to the detriment of that fragile minority community.

The general principle of intervening in the free market for moral reasons is well established in the realm of ecology. It has long been recognized that economic and industrial forces must be regulated in order to protect threatened ecosystems and thus preserve the natural wealth of the world. The sociologist C. Wright Mills has described the `higher immorality’ which places economic power and advantage above fundamental moral concerns, noting that this kind of attitude becomes institutionalized as an `organized irresponsibility’. The same holds true for
preserving the cultural wealth of the world and protecting threatened linguistic minorities like the Welsh-speaking communities of Wales. Allowing economic might to rule the housing market in Wales is an example of this `higher immorality’, and allowing this situation to continue to undermine a minority language is a kind of `organized irresponsibility’ which should be rectified by adopting legislative measures. It is clear that, in order to act in the spirit of The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, the government must `encourage conditions for the
promotion’ of the Welsh language and intervene in the housing market by adopting
`appropriate legislative and other measures’.

There are plenty of precedents for this kind of positive intervention. For example, Finland’s Swedish-speaking minority community on the island of Aland is protected by the kind of legislative measures we would like to see enacted in Wales. And in England, even though no threatened linguistic minority is at risk, the Lake District National Park Authority has intervened in the housing market in order to protect the integrity of the local traditional community.

In other words, in calling for legislative measures which would restrict the housing market and protect Welsh as a minority language, we are calling for action in keeping with Article One of the Declaration, and we are only asking for the kind of steps which have already been taken elsewhere. Some local authorities in Wales the Pembroke Coast National Park Authority, the Snowdonia National Park Authority and Gwynedd County Council have taken steps in this general direction, but positive pressure must be placed upon the Welsh Assembly Government in Cardiff in order to ensure that these local attempts at generating positive legislation are supported on the national level.

Welsh-speakers are not being threatened with the kind of violent aggression which has been aimed at other minority groups around the world in recent years. They belong to a minority which exists peacefully under the rule of a democratically elected government. Indeed, Welsh has been held up as a positive example of how a minority language can thrive in the modern world. However, the sad reality is that this potentially positive example for the rest of the world is in fact in danger of disappearing forever from the face of the world. If the Welsh Assembly Government and the U.K. Government can not be motivated to address the problems facing Welsh today, then it will disappear as a living community language.

The disappearance of Welsh-speaking communities shows that a minority community in a developed, democratic country can be pushed to the brink of extinction by governmental refusal to recognize the dangers posed by a free-market economy to economically week minority communities. If individual economic might is allowed to triumph over the rights of minority communities, then those communities will cease to exist.

What’s happening in Cymraeg-speaking communities

March 16th, 2006

Evidence for presentation to the National Assembly for Wales Culture Committee

Evidence given by 71 individuals from all over Wales

Efailnewydd, Gwynedd
Ann Thomas
7 Rhes Bodegroes
Efailnewydd
Pwllheli
Gwynedd

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.

Efailnewydd, Gwynedd
David Alun Thomas
7 Bodegroes
Efailnewydd
Pwllheli
Gwynedd

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.

Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd
Dewi Prysor
57 Maesheli
Penparcau
Aberystwyth
Ceredigion

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 ‘Trawsnewid’ 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.

Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd
Meleri Wyn Williams
29 Nottingham Street
Canton
Caerdydd

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
Onfa
Heol yr Orsaf
Llan Ffestiniog

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
bilingually.

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 £25,500 to those priced
between £30,000 + and £40,000. Two were recently sold for £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 £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
Bow Street
Aberystwyth
Ceredigion

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 there’s been a great increase in the anglicisation of the village. A little further down the village there’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.

Porth-y-rhyd, Carmarthenshire
Megan Bevan,
Y Blewyn Glas,
Porth-y-rhyd,
Carmarthen.

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
made.

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!

Housing

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
Gwen Jones
Cwyn y Gwynt
Ffordd Penlon
Newcastle Emlyn
Carmarthenshire

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.

Rhiwlas, Gwynedd
Gwenno Fflur Roberts
4 Caeau Gleision
Rhiwlas
Bangor

Since there’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), there’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, I’m not sure. Most of the people of my age
(22) have left the village.

Gwernmynydd, Flintshire
Gwyn Hughes
19 Padeswood Road
Buckley
Flintshire

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, Connah’s Quay. Beware, Gwynedd, the same change will come to you unless you watch out.

Boduan, Gwynedd
Hafina Pritchard
Tyddyn Cae
Boduan
Pwllheli

I’ve got three children between 6 and 3 years old and ever since the eldest was born I’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.

Pwllheli, Gwynedd
Heledd Bowers
Min y Don
Ffordd Caerdydd
Pwllheli
Gwynedd

I’ve had a monolingual English health visitor at the Pwllheli clinic to give an 8 month assessment to my daughter.

Dolanog, Powys
Heledd Jones
Y Glyn
Dolanog
Welshpool
Powys

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 women’s institute used to be all in Welsh until seven years ago: because so many
non-Welsh speakers attend them, they’ve become bilingual.

Abersoch, Gwynedd
Helen Roberts
59 Cae Du
Abersoch
Pwllheli
Gwynedd

I’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 it’s hibernating; as soon as the children’s summer holidays come, you’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 who’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 shouldn’t enter with less than a £50 note. What comfort is that to us on the wages we have in this area? These aren’t shops for us.
The local pub no luck here. I’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 visitors’ favourite saying at the moment is “We own this house and property” and it’s becoming ever more popular amongst them. The words which would be music to my ears would be “Fi yw perchennog y ty yma”. (“I’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.

Llanbedrog, Gwynedd
Ieuan Evans
Refail
Llanbedrog
Pwllheli
Gwynedd

Until the 1960s Llanbedrog was a village full of life and activity but today there isn’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 £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.

There’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.

Caernarfon, Gwynedd
Lari Parc
2 Bro Arfon
Y Fron
Caernarfon

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.
Help!

Llwyndyrus, Gwynedd
Llio Meirion
Ysgubor Plas
Llwyndyrus
Pwllheli
Gwynedd

1. The village hall at Y Ffôr, 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
monolingually English.

3. Five village post offices have closed in the Llyn Peninsula during the past two
years it’s a reflection of the decline in the local economy which means there’s outward migration.

Llwyndyrus, Gwynedd
Myrddin ap Dafydd
Ysgubor Plas
Llwyndyrus
Pwllheli
Gwynedd

I’ve been travelling around primary and secondary schools to hold poetry workshops for eight years. Children’s ability to handle words is crucial to their ability to take part in such classes. I’m now revisiting some of the schools in Llyn, Môn, 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.

Cwmystwyth, Ceredigion
Meredydd Evans
Afallon,
Cwmystwyth,
Aberystwyth,
Ceredigion

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 £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?

Ffestiniog, Gwynedd
Nesta Evans
Awelon
Ffestiniog
Gwynedd

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.

Bethel, Gwynedd
Sian Harris
Tyddyn Andrew Uchaf
Bethel
Caernarfon
Gwynedd

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
Helga Martin
Hafan
Ysbyty Ifan
Betws y Coed
Sir Conwy

[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 ‘bore da, bore braf!’, having learnt a little from tapes in England.

Pwllheli, Gwynedd
Sarah Marion Jones
Llwydiarth
Cae Capel
Pwllheli,
Gwynedd

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.

Mynytho, Gwynedd
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 £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 £50 and £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 ‘Cheshire Set’ takes over and the area becomes a place for them to escape to at weekends or permanently.

Waunfawr, Gwynedd
John Glyn
Garmon
2, Stad Ty Hen
Waunfawr,
Gwynedd

I believe that the Housing Associations’ 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?

Caernarfon, Gwynedd
Helen Gwyn
Dwylan
Ffordd Bangor
Caernarfon

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
Mary Hughes
Llwynpiod
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 — Bron-y-foel, Nebo, Cwm y Glo, are examples of social exclusion.

Dinas, Gwynedd
Meryl Davies
Nyffryn
Dinas
Pwllheli

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
Ty’n Lôn Fawr
Y Rhiw
Pwllheli
Gwynedd

Housing prices are dreadfully high in this area, making it impossible for local young people to buy them. Why doesn’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 doesn’t the National Assembly do something urgently?

Blaenporth, Ceredigion
Emyr Hywel
Cnwc yr Onnen
Blaenporth
Cardigan
Ceredigion

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 — 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 — 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.

Trefor, Gwynedd
Siôn Amlyn
Angorfa
Trefor
Caernarfon
Gwynedd

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.

Waunfawr, Caernarfon
Jên Rowlands
Angorfa
Waunfawr
Caernarfon

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.

Cilian, Gwynedd
Wendy Maglonia Lloyd Jones
Ceiriad
Cilian
Pwllheli
Gwynedd

There are 16 houses along the road (Lôn Groes – a ‘byway’ 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
Ty’nybraich
Dinas Mawddwy

(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.

Llandysul, Ceredigion
Anonymous

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 £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 £13,500, but it is difficult to confirm this.

2. I am very fortunate to have found work in Ceredigion that pays £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 £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 £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 £125,000, but the family would have to receive an income of £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 £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 £18,730, (compared to £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 £56,217. Carmarthenshire is not all that different to Ceredigion, if anything matters are probably worse in Ceredigion — in fact, a letter in the Teifi-Side [newspaper] today suggests that the average salary in the south of the county is £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 £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 £7,000 to the family’s income (that is the income for mortgage assessment purposes). This comes to £22,000. Suppose a maximum
possible mortgage of three times this amount = £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 £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 Môn

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.

Llangwnadl, Gwynedd
Simon Jones

In a rural area like this, with no village nearby, only scattered houses, the effect of non-Welsh speaking incomers is dreadful.

Inward migration

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.

Nanhoron, Gwynedd
Rhian Glyn,
Coed Anna,
Nanhoron,
Gwynedd.
Garnfadryn Area

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 £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,
Nant Peris,
Caernarfon,
Gwynedd.

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. There’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 there’s just one English-speaking child with them! I’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
language.
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 ‘local’ 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
Eirian Jones,
9 Brif Heol,
Blaenau Ffestiniog,
Gwynedd.

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 £14,000-£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 there’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 isn’t fair.

Porthmadog, Gwynedd
Gwynne Wheldon,
Llanerch,
42 Maes Gerddi,
Porthmadog,
Gwynedd

Although I live in Porthmadog town, I am a member and elder at Ebeneser chapel, Borth y Gest, not far from the town. There’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. It’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.

Waunfawr, Ceredigion
John J Jones,
8 Maesceinion,
Waunfawr,
Aberystwyth
Ceredigion

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
Siân Rhun Griffiths,
Bryn Salem,
Penmachno,
Conwy.

Our family’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, I’d love to live on the farm, but there’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 won’t live
here because I don’t want my children to grow up in an English-speaking community.

Llangynnwr, Carmarthenshire
Amanwy,
13 Golwg Tywi,
Llangynnwr,
Carmarthen,
Carmarthenshire.

Although I’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 £100,000 + (4/5 rooms).

Cwm Gwendraeth, Sir Gaerfyrddin
Rhys Padarn Jones,
168 Neuadd Pantycelyn,
Ffordd Penglais,
Aberystwyth,
Ceredigion.

I live in Cwm Gwendraeth. I went to Maesyryrfa school, but the pupils speak far more English today than they used to whether that’s a result of in-migration, I’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 people’s first language. This is very sad, because this situation exists in one of the most Welsh-speaking parts of Wales Cwm Gwendraeth.

Caernarfon, Gwynedd
Eirlys Wyn Thomas,
Plough,
Mill Street,
Aberystwyth,
Ceredigion.

I’ve lived in the Caernarfon area all my life before going to college, and it’s true that the Welsh language is alive in the town itself and in the surrounding villages, but unfortunately up in the hills it’s deteriorating. Many English people have come to live there in order to ‘enjoy the view’ without trying to learn the language, and their children have the same attitude.

Bodffordd, Anglesey
Robert J H Griffiths,
Cilfach y Bardd,
Cae’r Delyn,
Bodffordd,
Gwynedd.

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 ‘local’: those who’ve lived or worked on the island during the past three years. There’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.

Llanbrynmair, Powys
Eirlys Morgan,
Bryn Aere Isaf,
Llanbrynmair,
Powys.

After being on the market for many years, the local shop has been bought by a non-Welshspeaking family.

There’s only one garage open there were four 10 years ago. Now there’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, there’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, you’d have to go a great distance from here to find work.

Pistyll, Gwynedd
Osian H Williams,
Swn y Môr,
Pistyll,
Pwllheli,
Gwynedd.

I’d like to draw your attention to the important issues in our area.

School children: At 8 o’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 it’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 there’s a public footpath there!

Login, Carmarthenshire
Aled Eynon,
Penbontfaen,
Cwm-Miles,
Login,
Whitland,
Carmarthenshire.

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.

Cwmsymlog, Ceredigion
Rhydian Mason,
Cwmisaf,
Cwmsymlog,
Aberystwyth,
Ceredigion.

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 isn’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 there’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 won’t be willing to put up with this for much longer. Rural communities, and the old way of farming, are dying.

Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd
Hefin Wyn Jones,
Garreg Lwyd,
Trawsfynydd,
Meirionydd.

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 £42,500 “It’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 it’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
remain silent.

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,
Glanrafon Bach,
Mynydd Llandegai,
Bangor,
Gwynedd.

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 agents’ offices in all parts of Gwynedd. I found that I wasn’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. It’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 can’t afford to buy the houses of their forefathers! They change hands for nearly £85,000 and one is for sale at the asking price of £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 I’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 friend’s land in order to create a short cut for themselves. Elsewhere I’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 don’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 they’ve done their duty towards the language.

Synod, Ceredigion
Mair Heulyn,
Crud yr Awel,
Synod,
Llandysul,
Ceredigion.

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, £89,950.

Tudweiliog, Gwynedd
Bethan Roberts,
Bryn Pin,
Tudweiliog,
Pwllheli

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 didn’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.

Nantmor, Gwynedd
Delyth and Eleri Evans,
Nant Dwr Oer,
Nantmor,
Gwynedd.

Beddgelert and District. (Nantgwynant and Nantmor)

The school: When I was at school in Beddgelert in the 70s, æ 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 £55-£60,000, and they are comparatively small terraced houses. At the moment a house in a block of six is on sale for £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!

Llanwddyn, Powys
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.

Mynytho, Gwynedd
Cyril Jones,
Trem Eryri,
Mynytho,
Pwllheli

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 Pensioners’ Lunch Club tends to turn to the language of ‘Our English Friends’. 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
Owen Jones,
Mur Poeth,
Pencaerau,
Rhiw,
Pwllheli

Examples of houses for sale here at present :
A 2/3 bedroom cottage in Rhiw with 1 acre of land £160,000
Bungalow, 3/4 bedrooms in Aberdaron £145,000
2/3 bedroom cottage with æ acre in Rhoshirwaun £79,500
3 bedroom house in Llangwnadl £97,500
3 bedroom in Rhoshirwaun with a little land £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.

Ffestiniog, Gwynedd
Gareth Parry,
Gwyndy,
Ffestiniog,
Gwynedd

Houses too expensive for local people who are on low wages, or unemployed. Terraced houses from £45,000 upwards and houses around the village up to £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”, “Don’t be so Bloody Rude, I don’t speak THAT” and “Say it in English for God’s Sake.” Who is racist? All the local Welsh-speakers have all sorts of examples of this type of thing.

Garnfadryn, Gwynedd
Dylan Evans,
Parc,
Garnfadryn,
Pwllheli,
Gwynedd

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 Môn
Ffion Wyn,
Pwllcoch Uchaf,
Rhosybol,
Amlwch,
Ynys Môn

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 Môn
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 £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.

Penybontfawr, Powys
Elinor Mair Davies,
Ty Nant,
Penybontfawr,
Near Oswestry,
Powys

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.

Nantmor, Gwynedd

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.

Llanfrothen, Gwynedd
Emlyn R Roberts,
Brondanw Arms,
Llanfrothen,
Gwynedd

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 ‘Brookside’ 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,
Y Fron,
Caernarfon,
Gwynedd

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.

Results
Welsh response 41
English response 63
Learners 3
Empty houses 2
Non Welsh speaking Welsh 2
Total 111

Llaneilian, Ynys Môn
Gwynne Morris Jones,
Cae Iocyn,
Llaneilian,
Ynys Môn,

A need for housing?

At the moment there are about 1700 houses for sale on Ynys Môn. 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.

In summary:
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 M̫n at present Рeither 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 £70,000 to £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 Môn County Council.

My personal opinion is that Ynys Môn, 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 Môn 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 Môn and Gwynedd are competing with one another to attract jobs.

Llanbrynmair, Powys
Huw Morgan

In-migration

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 weren’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.

Out-migration

Go to any estate agent’s office in the area and look at local rural house prices that’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 Evans’ 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 won’t be treated like Butlins for the elderly (from England) from now on!

Llanystumdwy, Gwynedd
Anna Wyn Jones,
Cefn y Maen,
Llanystumdwy,
Gwynedd

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. It’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.

Cricieth.
1517 electors (February 2001)
Societies.
Merched y Wawr W
Women’s Institue E
Mothers’ 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
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
Café W W
Café W W
Café E Mix
Café 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
Library W
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. It’s also disappointing to see that only a few of the young people do their shopping in the local shops. I really don’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 £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 can’t depend on them if the agricultural industry is in disarray. Everything is connected to employment. And
while I’m at it, if the local and county councils permit proposals to build supermarkets in every town, there won’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.

Cymuned’s Holiday Homes Policy

March 16th, 2006

The University of London was recently commissioned by the National Assembly of Wales to review the holiday homes situation in Wales with concern to the cultural and social impact of these houses. Cymuned’s response to this research is included
below in the form of our reply to a policy questionnaire.

The issue of holiday homes ownership is a controversial subject in Wales. Many people in rural Welsh-speaking communities cannot afford to own property. The situation is made worse by wealthy individuals, often from England, buying up property in scenic villages and thus further pricing the locals out of the
housing market.

Cymuned believes that the right of Welsh citizens to be homed should take precedence over the rights of wealthy individuals to own property in Wales for entertainment purposes. There is room to allow a small proportion of the housing stock in Wales to be put aside to allow other European citizens property for
entertainment and relaxation, but this should only be allowed within the context of a sustainable host community.

Many people visit Wales not just to enjoy the scenery, but also to relax in a country with different cultural and social traditions. Respecting these different traditions is at the heart of responsible tourism. A holiday homes policy that ends up killing
the Welsh language and culture does nothing for future generations from England and elsewhere who want to enjoy the difference of Wales.

Second and Holiday Home Purchasing in Wales

Structured Stakeholder Interview

As part of this NAW commissioned project, we are contacting interested/potentially interested groups and organisations in Wales. This interview is part of a wider consultation exercise designed to gauge professional opinions on the issue of second and holiday homes in Wales.

For the purpose of this research, the distinction between second and holiday homes is as follows:

Second Homes: properties used primarily for short holidays, either by their owners or the friends/relatives of owners, but not let out commercially for this purpose

Holiday Homes: properties used solely for holidays, either owned privately or by holiday companies, and let on a commercial basis for this purpose

We are also concerned with ‘non-recreational’ second homes; i.e., dual property households where a distinction between first and second home is difficult to make (perhaps with different partners working in different areas) or properties purchased as a rental investment.

The purpose of this questionnaire is to act as a guide for our on-going investigations into changes in the housing market in Wales.

Respondent Details
Name: Dr Simon Brooks
Position: Member of Steering Committee
Organisation: Cymuned

1. Does the organisation have any policies that relate either directly or indirectly to second and holiday homes? If yes, please outline them below.

Yes. Cymuned has a policy on second and holiday homes. Cymuned is a movement that is mainly concerned with rural Welsh-speaking communities. But many of these policies could also be applicable to English-speaking rural communities in Wales, and indeed to other rural parts of the United Kingdom. These policies are available below.

1. Too many second and holiday homes in any area is totally destructive to the social and linguistic networks of those areas.

2. Since the owners of these homes possess far greater economic power than the residents of Welsh-speaking areas their strength enables them to price local buyers, who are relatively weak economically, out of the market. The effect of this is seen in house prices that extend far beyond the second and holiday home market.

3. These homes, which are empty for a large part of the year, literally create a gap in local society, which in turn makes that community less attractive for local people to live in.

4. Often, these homes are transformed into main dwellings and this too leads to a deterioration in the Welsh language.

5. The need and the ability to buy holiday homes derive from economic factors that exist outside Welsh-speaking communities.

6. Owners buy property in addition to their main dwelling, either as an investment, a retreat/holiday home, and/or to create an income by letting out the property. In this sense buying a holiday home is often a business arrangement, and the Assembly should recommend to the Treasury that VAT should be charged on the purchase. We also support calls to raise council tax on these homes to 200%.

7. Planning permission ought to be necessary to change a permanent dwelling into a second or holiday home. Permanent dwellings and second or holiday homes should not be included in the same Use Classes for Planning Regulations (Use Classes Order 1995). Second or holiday homes can be placed in a different Use Class to permanent
dwellings. It is within the National Assembly’s powers to amend the Use Classes Order. That would mean that planning permission would be needed to change a permanent dwelling into a second or holiday home.

8. Holiday homes should not account for more than 5% of any community’s housing stock.

2. Does your organisation consider that the planning system either is, or has the potential to be, an appropriate vehicle for controlling the number of second and holiday homes in Wales, or for controlling the occupancy of residential property?

There is reference to this in our above policies (see point 7). It states:
Planning permission ought to be necessary to change a permanent dwelling into a
second or holiday home. Permanent dwellings and second or holiday homes should
not be included in the same Use Classes for Planning Regulations (Use Classes
Order 1995). Second or holiday homes can be placed in a different Use Class to
permanent dwellings. It is within the National Assembly’s powers to amend the Use
Classes Order. That would mean that planning permission would be needed to
change a permanent dwelling into a second or holiday home.

3. How significant do you consider external housing demand pressure to be in Wales (this includes retirement in -migration, commuter purchases and second/holiday homes)?

External housing demand is pricing the local population out of the housing market. The second and holiday home market obviously exacerbates this problem. Cymuned bases its policies upon the latest academic evidence. Dr Dylan Phillip’s recent University of Wales study, The Effects of Tourism on the Welsh Language in
North-West Wales (2001), proves that there is also a link between second and holiday home ownership and the decision to retire to Wales on a permanent basis. Since those retiring can benefit from the greater capital the housing market outside rural Wales commands this too increases demand on housing and further lifts prices.

4. Is this pressure concentrated in any particular parts of Wales? Is it concentrated on any particular types of accommodation?

Of course, the pressure is concentrated in rural Wales. This is an issue across all rural Wales but we know that it is a particular problem in the Gower, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Gwynedd and Anglesey. There are communities, in north Pembrokeshire, for example, or on the Llyn Peninsula, where local people are unable to gain access to the housing market at all. The second and holiday homes market is partly responsible for this. In Llanengan, for example, on the Llyn Peninsula, 33.3% of the housing market (in 1999) are second and holiday homes. Cymuned has no empirical evidence to confirm that this pressure is on a particular part of the housing stock. However, anecdotal evidence does suggest that the houses affected are often run-of-the-mill family homes (2 or 3 bedrooms). This is particularly damaging as they are exactly the sort of homes that young local families are likely to try to acquire as they try to get a foot on the housing ladder for the first time.

5. What do you consider to be the effects of this type of external housing demand pressure?

In practical terms, it leads to an increase in house prices. This then means that local people cannot afford to buy houses in their own communities. This in turn increases the rate of out-migration from those communities where out-migration is already a problem. This out-migration can be to the nearest county town or out of the local area
completely. This has a serious effect on the linguistic, cultural and social balance of communities where second homes are prevalent. In Ceredigion, for example, Newquay has a high number of second homes. This is also one of the communities in the county where the Welsh language is weakest. This is part of the process by which
the Welsh language and culture is driven away from the coast, and out of the National Parks, and left as a social force only in those communities in rural Wales that are not as appealing visually.

6. Which groups of local people are worst affected by these pressures on housing in Wales?

When house prices rise substantially above levels the local economy can sustain, there is little doubt that those who are worst affected are young people (especially those who are trying to buy a house for the first time), working class people or those on low income, single mothers; indeed, everyone who is likely to be under social
or financial disadvantage already. This problem thus hits hardest those individuals the Assembly’s strategies to create an inclusive society are supposed to help.

7. What initiatives should be implemented or strengthened in order to minimise the economic disadvantages suffered by lower-income local households? These might include re-training schemes or the promotion of economic diversification as well as the adoption of policies designed to increase housing supply or limit the occupancy of homes to local people. Please describe these initiatives below.

Cymuned has developed a variety of housing policies in this field. These policies are listed below.

1. Technical Advice Note 20 should be strengthened to give County Councils clear guidance that they have the right and responsibility to protect the interests of the Welsh language.

2. There should be no presumption in favour of development. Instead there should be policy adoption of ‘language belts’ similar to ‘green belts’, where development is prohibited unless there is irrefutable proof of the local need to do so.

3. We are not of the opinion that there is a need to enlarge the current housing stock in Welsh-speaking communities. The problem is not a lack of housing but rather the inability of the local population to gain access to the housing that is already available.

4. Any new development should include irrefutable proof of local need. The Assembly should encourage planning authorities to exercise their right under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to impose a time limit on any planning permission granted.

5. Any new development should include a Section 106 Agreement. Part of the property stock should be designated for the use of local people. Local people should be defined as individuals who have lived in an area for ten years, or who have attended a local school. An area should be defined as being within a ten mile radius of the dwelling concerned.

6. When property is available in Welsh-speaking communities, but no local buyer available, people from outside the area should be considered and prioritised by developing a points system that would acknowledge family ties, proximity to the ten mile border and employment needs.

7. A ‘For Sale’ sign should be placed on any house that comes on the market for at least a month before it is advertised in newspapers. This would ensure that local people would know that the house is for sale before commercial advertising takes place.

8. Houses should not be advertised by an agent whose registered office is further than 30 miles away from the dwelling concerned until a year has passed since the property was first advertised.

9. Suitable housing should be available to rent in order to meet local demand. This should be a statutory responsibility on local authorities. This provision should be made from the current housing stock.

10. Housing associations have an important role to play in meeting local needs, but a fresh view needs to taken regarding house building schemes. At present housing associations are required to provide new stock that offers best value to the Assembly. Consequently, large numbers of houses are built on the same site. This does reduce single unit costs to the value determined by the Assembly. But it also results in new tenants being shifted from rural areas to live on the outskirts of towns.

11. The Assembly’s house buying rules should be amended to allow housing associations and councils to buy more private houses and ex-council houses in rural areas and let them (adapted if necessary) to the residents. With council houses, Right to Buy legislation should be amended and the ‘right to buy’ should be changed to the ‘right to acquire’.

12. We support the Assembly’s Home Buy Scheme. We believe that this scheme is an important contribution to social justice since it enables local people to buy houses and live in their own communities. But we do not believe that the resources released to date meet the demand. At least £20 million per annum is required to ensure that a meaningful number of people are enabled to live in their own community.

8. The Welsh language. To what extent should the need to maintain and develop the use of the Welsh language be a priority in housing and planning policy?

Cymuned has always been honest about the situation of the Welsh language. In rural Wales, there is no future at all for the Welsh language unless debate about housing need is based upon sustainability and not capital. The Government of Wales, and the Assembly, must decide if it wants to see Welsh-language communities survive in rural Wales or not. If it doesn’t wish to see these communities survive, or if it is not of the opinion that this is important, then it should state this. If it wishes to see these communities survive, then it should ensure that it’s housing policy is based upon academic and empirical evidence that shows the connection between sudden demographic change and language death. But whatever it does, it cannot claim to be in favour of the Welsh language and then go in an opposite direction to all the academic work that has been done by unbiased individuals in the field. The need to maintain and develop the use of the Welsh language should be a priority in housing and planning policy.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this questionnaire.

Answers to the Housing Committee

March 16th, 2006

When Cymuned appeared before the Culture Committee in the National Assembly on November 7, there was no time to answer a range of questions from Assembly Members. Cymuned therefore answered these questions in written form. These answers, as well as a transcript of the relevant part of the meeting are below.

“For me, you see, this is very much a socialist issue, isn’t it, people should be
able to live where they are, work where they are, and speak in the language of
their choice.”

Edwina Hart, Y Gweinidog dros Gyllid, Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau, 7/11/01

Pwyllgor Llywodraeth Leol a Thai y Cynulliad Cenedlathol

Cyfarfod 7-11-01

Sylwadau’r Aelodau ar Gyflwyniad Dirprwyaeth Cymuned, ac Ymatebion Cymuned

Peter Black AM

I just want to make some comments on what we’ve heard today and the paper. I think there are quite a lot of issues that have been raised by the paper, and if you’ll bear with me I’ll do my best to make some comments on them. I think first of all there’s a number of assumptions in the paper which do need to be questioned. I think the first assumption in paragraph 0.9, where you’re talking about the housing policy in
Wales currently not facilitating the fact that local people have the same opportunity as non-local people, clearly the Assembly is striving very hard to actually make that facilitation, to ensure that local people do have that opportunity, and I think that the
Homebuy Scheme, which Gwilym Euros actually praised, I think is one example of how we’re trying to do that and how we’re trying to achieve that.

I think also, I mean I know this is going to be a bit more controversial in the sense that the Lake District National Park policy which was referred to in 1.2 — I’m not aware that’s ever been tested in the courts. But clearly that is something which should actually be looked at to see whether that can be done, but clearly they are a National Park and therefore they have different planning-restrictions to large parts of Wales, and I think that the assumption that that can be easily applied across planning policy in Wales is something which maybe Sue Essex’s study of planning policy needs to address when we come to it.

We’re talking, I think, in a number of instances in this paper, about what the National Assembly can do in terms there’s some reference to the National Housing Authority, a reference in paragraph 2.2 to carrying out research at a national level, and I think it’s always been the position of the National Assembly that these sort of matters need to be tackled on a local basis, and a lot of the things which we’re being asked to
do as a National Assembly are actually functions which local councils already have. And I think a part of the problem which we have in terms of housing need in rural areas lies down to the fact that local councils haven’t always adequately addressed the need, and the housing needs in their own area. And in a sense, I mean, there’s a reference later on to the Homebuy Scheme and the fact that, you know, there’s a
request that we need to put more money in. I mean, the fact is that we put £1.5 million as match funding to £1.5 million from the Social Housing Grant this year, which could effectively provide 150 homes under the Homebuy Scheme. So far we’ve
only been bid for 140, and clearly there’s more money available through Social Housing Grant, if local authorities wish to direct that, but the fact that those local authorities haven’t actually carried out the needs assesment of where those
homes are needed is one of the reasons why that Homebuy Scheme is not being utilised to the full, though I’m confident that in the future it will be utilised to the full, and it will actually contribute quite significantly to the local area.

I’ve got a number of other comments; on paragraph 4.16, we’re talking about amending the Assembly’s house-buying rules, to allow Housing Associations and Councils to buy more private houses — they can do that now, they have that power already, and I think that assumption needs to be challenged as well. And also the question about the Homeless People Order extending the categories of individuals required, and the suggestion that maybe this is going to encourage people to
come from England to take up accommodation in Wales — quite apart from the fact I don’t find that suggestion particularly a savoury one, local councils do have an obligation to establish a local connection when they assess someone as homeless, but I don’t think we should be setting up barriers in any case to try to prevent people to move between the various areas and the various regions of the United Kingdom.
But those are some of the assumptions which I wanted to question; but I think in a sense that there are also some more disturbing issues which are raised by this paper, and which again I think is worth applying — the fact, 3.10, ‘planning permission that has been granted should be reassessed in order to consider whether it poses a threat to either the environment or the Welsh language’, and then asking Councils to
effectively, you know, be given — provided money so they can compensate for revoking that planning-permission. 3.13, new planning permission could include a condition about resubmitting the work and effectively putting a lot of burdens
on people who might want to build accommodation — I find that very onerous and restrictive, and I also find it very unacceptable that we should be asking, that we should be seeking to restrict the fact that people wish to set up home.

I don’t see the solution to this problem in terms of creating ghettoes, in terms of stopping people moving into areas — I think the solution to this problem has to be in terms of actually finding positive action to nurture the language, and positive issues which we can do to try and ensure that people do have the opportunity to compete and have homes in their own area; and I think, you know, 4.4 — ‘Property should be designated for the use of local people. Local people should be defined as individuals who have lived in an area for over ten years’ — when local councils in London tried to introduce that sort of policy, they were told it was racist, and they were told so because clearly there was an implication there that they wanted just to designate those houses for white people. Now clearly there’s a different situation in Wales, but the same situation is applying here, that you’re trying to create ghettoes, in parts of
Wales, which exclude people who haven’t been born and brought up in that area, and I don’t believe that is an acceptable way to proceed to tackle this particular problem.
I think that — I don’t want to be all negative on this, and I’m trying not to be negative, I’m trying to be constructive because I think there are some useful and interesting suggestions in this paper, and I think 4.10, for example, in this paper, refers to
estate-agents being asked to explain to people the sort of nature of the area they’re coming into, I think that might be a useful thing to look at; 4.11 — suitable housing being available for rent, making sure that the local authorities actually meet their
statutory responsibilities in terms of assessing housing needs and making sure that there is accommodation available — that is, you know, clearly things which needs to be done; and I think in paragraph 5.7 it’s certainly worthwhile looking at
whether we need to have planning-permission for people to actually have a second home, but the idea of actually maybe charging 200% Council Tax on holiday homes in my view can distort the market in unacceptable ways, and we do have to remember that it is local people who are seeking to sell these homes, and those local people who may be penalised by that sort of provision.

I think that the quality of housing, which was referred to in the presentation, is very important, and I think there are concerns about the quality of housing, particularly in the private rented sector, which need to be addressed, and I think the Licensing
Scheme which we keep pressing the UK Government to bring in is very important in dealing with that particular issue. I think also it may be worth looking at issues like for instance having Language Action Areas where we can actually nurture the
language without restricting people’s access and freedom but finding other positive measures to do that.

So I think that clearly we have to recognise there is a problem, but we also have to be clear that in tackling that problem we’re not going to set up some form of state-controlled access to housing and access to areas — what we want to do is find
positive measures which encourage people to stay in the area, particularly in terms of economic development, and also give people equally opportunity to stay in that area if they can, with schemes like the Homebuy, which I think is adequately resourced at the moment. I think it’s important if you’re asking us for £20 million for that, that you justify how we’re going to spend that, in terms of the needs for that scheme in areas,
because clearly at the moment Councils haven’t demonstrated that need, and they do have the Social Housing Grant, which is £56 million this year, £20 million going to local authorities, which they can use to promote Homebuy if they need to.

Cymuned

1. ” …the Lake District National Park policy which was referred to in 1.2… clearly they are a National Park and therefore they have different planning-restrictions to large parts of Wales…”

We believe there is a case, in the Welsh-speaking areas, for planning-restrictions that are similar to those of National Parks, on the grounds that, just as one of the aims of a National Park is to safeguard the local environment, one of the aims of a planning
authority in a Welsh-speaking area should be to safeguard the local culture. We believe these two public functions to be equally important.

Ancient buildings are protected by a range of legislation. The presence of a rare or threatened plant, animal or bird in a particular area is a planning consideration in itself. An ancient and threatened language and culture — rich collective human
creations spontaneously evolved and refined over centuries — have a similar value.

2. ” …there’s… a reference in paragraph 2.2 to carrying out research at a national level, and I think it’s always been the position of the National Assembly that these sort of matters need to be tackled on a local basis…”

Our suggestion in paragraph 2.2 is actually that research sub-divisions should be set up in each County Council that is within, or partly within, the Welsh-speaking areas.

3. ” …I think a part of the problem which we have in terms of housing need in rural areas lies down to the fact that local councils haven’t always adequately addressed the… housing needs in their own area.”

We agree. Our call, therefore, is for the National Assembly to strengthen and broaden the range of advice and guidance to local authorities in housing and planning matters, and to ensure that the financial resources for the necessary research are available.
4. ” …the fact is that we put £1.5 million as match funding to £1.5 million from the Social Housing Grant this year, which could effectively provide 150 homes under the Homebuy Scheme. So far we’ve only been bid for 140…”

As Janet Davies AM later implied, 140 out of 150 represents a good rate of take-up at the half-year stage. The reason for this, of course, is that the demand for Homebuy funding far outstrips the supply at present. In Gwynedd, for example, this year’s full financial quota (£790,000 with a contribution of £320,000 from the Assembly) allotted for Homebuy, representing 45 homes, was used up in less than a month after release (mid May). Most of this money was spent in the Bethesda area in Arfon before the scheme could be advertised as news of its existence spread by word of mouth.

In Dwyfor, where the housing crisis is at its most acute, we understand that only a handful of homes were purchased under this scheme. The local housing association for Gwynedd, Cymdeithas Tai Eryri, has recently completed an advertising campaign in the county about the Homebuy scheme. They expect their current list of 30 individuals expressing interest to increase to a figure of several hundred.

It is on the basis of this statistic that we have suggested a figure of £20 million per annum as an appropriate grant for the Homebuy Scheme (paragraph 4.20).

5. “And also the question about the Homeless People Order extending the categories of individuals required… local councils do have an obligation to establish a local connection when they assess someone as homeless…”

The obligation to establish a local connection only applies to former prisoners, as noted in Statutory Instrument 2001 No. 607 (W.30), Clause 7(1), and The Homeless Persons (Priority Need) (Wales) Order 2001 No 607 (W.30) Provisional Guidance, Clauses 6.1 to 6.4. None of the other four additional categories of homeless person provided for in the Statutory Instrument have to establish a local connection in order to qualify under the Order. We would like to suggest that the National Assembly
urgently consults the Chief Housing Officers of all Welsh Unitary Authorities concerning the effects of this Order to date. We believe that the feedback from
certain areas will reveal that concern is justified. We would refer the Assembly, by way of example, to a report entitled “Homelessness: Legislative Changes and Implications” presented to the Housing Policy Panel of Conwy County Borough Council on 27 July 2001 — in particular paragraph 4.3.2.

6. ” …3.10, ‘planning permission that has been granted should be reassessed in order to consider whether it poses a threat to either the environment or the Welsh language’, and then asking Councils to effectively, you know, be given — provided money so they can compensate for revoking that planning-permission. 3.13, new
planning permission could include a condition about resubmitting the work and effectively putting a lot of burdens on people who might want to build accommodation — I find that very onerous and restrictive…”

Both the above proposals reflect our view that an attempt should be made to curb the practice of holding on to planning-permissions for speculative purposes, which has the effect of restricting the land available on the open market for development, and
may have serious effects on the linguistic balance of an area when a large development eventually comes to be made, perhaps in social and linguistic conditions very different from those under which the planning permission was originally granted (we would instance the problems which emerged in relation to the notorious Morfa Bychan development, near Porthmadog, in the 1990s).

We doubt the morality of a system which allows individuals or companies to profit by speculative delay while hundreds of people in a county area are waiting for affordable homes. The fundamental ethical question is whether individual or corporate
aspiration should be allowed precedence over community need.

It is worth pointing out that the benefits of such reforms would extend far beyond the majority Welsh-speaking areas: after twenty years of anarchy in the rural housing market (whereby the desire to sell property for profit has taken precedence over the
ability of people on lower incomes to own a home, and the ability of communities to retain their identity and their indigenous population), implementation of
these proposals would benefit the residents of the whole of rural Wales.

7. “I don’t see the solution to this problem in terms of creating ghettoes, in terms of stopping people moving into areas I think the solution to this problem has to be in terms of actually finding positive action to nurture the language, and positive issues which we can do to try and ensure that people do have the opportunity to compete
and have homes in their own area…”

We agree. Cymuned does not wish to see the creation of ghettoes of any kind. Two of the Oxford English Dictionary’s definitions of a ghetto are: ‘an area etc. occupied by an isolated group; an isolated or segregated group, community or area’; Cymuned
does not wish to see the Welsh-speaking Welsh or Welsh-speaking communities become isolated or segregated. Indeed, there is no danger of such a development: several decades have now gone by since the last monolingual Welsh community ceased to exist as such, and we accept that there will be no turning back of the clock in that respect.

What Cymuned is campaigning for are measures to strengthen Welsh-speaking communities by making it easier for local people to remain in their communities if they wish to do so, and by making it easier and more attractive for non-Welsh-speaking newcomers to adopt the Welsh language and culture. As we indicated in our written presentation to the Committee (particularly in paragraphs 1.4 and 0.9), our wish is not to keep people out of communities, but to ensure economic fairness and social justice for local people in those communities. It is important to note, once again, that the kind of measures we are suggesting for strengthening the economic and social situation of local people would be operative for all local people — the non-Welsh-speakers as well as the Welsh-speakers. The aim of strengthening the position of the Welsh language as such would be realised by means of measures such as language planning and the strengthening of the position of the Welsh language as a Planning Consideration.

8. ” …4.4 — ‘Property should be designated for the use of local people. Local people should be defined as individuals who have lived in an area for over ten years’ — when local councils in London tried to introduce that sort of policy, they were told it was racist, and they were told so because clearly there was an implication there that they wanted just to designate those houses for white people. Now clearly there’s a different
situation in Wales, but the same situation is applying here, that you’re trying to create
ghettoes, in parts of Wales, which exclude people who haven’t been born and brought up in that area…”

Whatever the motives of London councils may or may not have been, race is irrelevant to matters of language: it is open to any member of any race to learn any language. Any analogy with the situation you mentioned is therefore inapplicable. We repeat — exclusion is not our aim, but rather a redressing of the balance of economic and social power in favour of local people, whatever their first language. We would point out that for young locally-born English-speaking or Somali-speaking residents of
Butetown or Canton to be rendered unable to buy homes in their native district by the operation of an unregulated housing market is just as unacceptable as
the corresponding situation for young Welsh-speaking people in certain rural areas.

9. ” …I think there are some useful and interesting suggestions in this paper… for example… 4.11 — suitable housing being available for rent…”

Our suggestion in paragraph 4.11 was that this should be a statutory responsibility of local authorities. We would welcome early action by the National Assembly to establish such a statutory framework.

10. ” …the idea of actually maybe charging 200% Council Tax on holiday homes in my view can distort the market in unacceptable ways…” We would like to invite you to enlarge on your reasons for suggesting that such a measure would ‘distort’ the local housing market in ways that were ‘unacceptable’. Surely a measure which had the
effect of reducing the pressure on the local housing market, from buyers with greater resources of disposable wealth than most local people can hope to command, would be beneficial to a community.

11. ” …we do have to remember that it is local people who are seeking to sell these homes, and those local people who may be penalised…”

The Welsh Language Society has done interesting and important work on the subject of establishing a Property Law in Wales (1990/92, revised 1999). This is available in an English version on:

www.cymdeithas.com/dadlwytho/deddf_eiddo.en.pdf

Section 04.7 of this document makes detailed proposals for ensuring that measures to regulate the local housing market do not result in financial loss for owners of property. We commend these proposals to your attention.
” …we also have to be clear that in tackling the problem we’re not going to set up some form of state-controlled access to housing…”

12. We find your use of the phrase “state-controlled access” unjustifiably emotive. The kind of measures we are proposing would create a framework for judicious regulation and enabling, not oppressive control.

Janet Davies AM

First of all could I thank you, and the Minister, and Cymuned, for putting the issue of rural housing much higher up the political agenda than it has been before, and I think it is very good to see you coming together to put it up the agenda. You probably know I was a member of the Plaid Cymru Rural Housing Task Force, and played a major part in writing that report earlier this year.

Now clearly, this is an issue that the Government of Wales needs to address — it’s very important that they do so. I think that, you know, we as an Opposition have made a contribution towards this, but it’s a problem that you [gesturing to the Minister] need to solve, and I think — I’m very glad to see it’s being taken seriously.

There’s one issue that always worries me with housing, that sometimes you want — you start doing something that actually has the opposite effect, and I think it’s very important on the way forward to make sure that any measures that are taken don’t actually sort of come back and hit us round the face when we’ve done them. And I am concerned about some things — I’m very — much — you know, large area of agreement with what’s in this submission, but there are some matters that I feel great concern about. I’m not going to go through everything, because I don’t really feel that that is my role, I think, you know, the presentation’s been made, and I’m sure the Minister will pick up what she can. But I’m concerned, always, on any subject when we get suggestions that would lead to very complex bureaucracy, because frequently they’re unworkable, and they’re not always desirable, but most of all they’re often
impracticable as well, and therefore I do feel a great deal of concern about the level of bureaucracy that is being suggested here.

Looking at people coming in to live here permanently, I think that people can come in and actually make a nation stronger, and make a community stronger — they can help with economic development. But also there’s a balance here, isn’t there, but it’s not all negative. The Homebuy Scheme is something we’ve all welcomed very much, and the doubling of the amount of money available for it. As Peter said, £20 million is going in the Social Housing Grant into rural areas this year, and I do wonder if perhaps a larger proportion of it could go to the Homebuy Scheme — I think the plea to the Minister to look at the level that’s going into the Homebuy Scheme, and to try to increase it, is very important, because certainly there is some evidence that a great deal more money could be used. I think it was said, and I’m not certain about this, whether I heard it rightly, that 140 out of 150 possible properties had been applied for, which isn’t too bad half way through the financial year — I hope the other ten will come in fairly quickly.

Clearly the whole issue of licensing private rented properties is an issue for the whole of Wales, and it would make a huge difference if the only properties that were put up for private rent were in good condition, and being let at a proper rent, and that when people move into them they know that they’re moving into homes that are of adequate quality.

I’d like to turn to the issue of holiday homes. I think it’s quite surprising that it’s Exmoor National Park that has had to lead the way, on possible change of use issues, rather than Wales, because, you know, we have had this problem for I would have
said at least 25 years, possibly longer, and I really think that in Wales we should have been leading the way on how we cope with this situation. Now I go to rural areas of Wales, I — I will stay in a holiday home, I think all of us from urban Wales like to do this. But I think there has to be a balance, and when you get communities where there’s a very high proportion, it does destroy the community, it destroys the facilities, the post office goes, the school, you have empty villages, and I don’t think
that’s acceptable. I don’t think that putting the Council Tax up to 200% is actually going to do anything other than give the local authority a bit more money to try to subsidise services in those areas where it’s happening.

Now unfortunately the National Assembly, as I understand it, doesn’t have the power
to do that, but I would like to see us have the power, and I would like to see it used in an appropriate manner. I’m also concerned that, to an extent, people are renting
holiday homes off season, and then being made homeless when we get to Easter, April, May, whenever — and I think that that is a problem that needs to be addressed.

As I say, I’m not going to comment on all of these, I think it’s something for the Government to take up, to look at, because it’s the Government of Wales that has the research facilities and is able to do that. But I think we do need to be looking at it seriously. I think there is a problem that — of the Needs Assessments, and I think that some Councils certainly need to carry out properly researched needs assessment — I have been for a long time convinced that local authorities need to look at their powers, they need to provide the evidence for action they do, they need to be able to justify what they’re doing, and I think there have been times when they have acted in a somewhat subjective manner, and have perhaps not been able to back up their actions.

I think it was regrettable there was a reference to racism. When you have threatened communities, when you have a threatened language, I think that even if people are mistaken in the ideas they’re putting forward, I don’t think they should be accused of
racism when they’re trying to protect threatened communities.

Thank you.

(Peter Black AM On that point, I actually made no such imputation.)

Cymuned

1. ” …I’m concerned, always, on any subject when we get suggestions that would lead to very complex bureaucracy, because frequently they’re unworkable, and they’re not always desirable, but most of all they’re often impracticable as well, and therefore I do feel a great deal of concern about the level of bureaucracy that is being suggested here.”

The kind of Housing Authority we propose in paragraph 6.1 of our written presentation would be primarily a research organisation, and thus would surely have only a small staff and a comparatively straightforward brief. We do not share your fear that it would become a bloated bureaucracy. Its function would be to assist planning-authorities in formulating accurate assessments of local housing needs, and to secure consistency in the methods of arriving at these assessments throughout Wales. Its relationship with the local planning authorities would thus be not dissimilar to that of the WJEC with the local education authorities.

2. “Looking at people coming in to live here permanently, I think that people can come in and actually make a nation stronger, and make a community stronger…”

Cymuned is not opposed to in-migration. We are only opposed to in-migration when it prevents the Welsh language from re-generating itself on a community level from generation to generation. Like all Welsh-language organizations, Cymuned has members born in England, members who have learnt Welsh as a second language, and members who self-identify as English people. We are as committed to their interests as we are to any other part of the Welsh-language community.

From an ethical point of view, our stance has always been that we represent a minority community within Wales, but that this community is one which all
people are welcome to join, regardless of ethnic background, place of birth or first language. This is why Cymuned, in its representation to the Culture Committee, has placed considerable emphasis on improving the opportunities for people to learn
Welsh. The problem has always been that, over time, the level of in-migration to an area of Wales accelerates to the point where linguistic assimilation is no longer
necessary in order for individuals to be able to function independently in their adopted community. And in the absence of sufficient positive measures to
promote such assimilation, the migrant language and culture become the dominant ones, and the indigenous language and culture become progressively weakened.

William Graham AM

I’m grateful to the presenters today for drawing attention to this problem, which is prevalent in mid-Wales and also on the North Wales coast. The information that I have from visiting that area is that very often, the problem families, as it were, to
use those terms, are actually attracted to that area by advertisements placed by Registered Social Landlords — and this has created a major problem, and you’re very right to draw attention to this.

I’m disappointed that your presentation doesn’t go to the point which Peter made very clearly in terms of economic activity, and that’s really the regeneration of communities economically, which will help people to stay there. I also take the point that Janet made with regard to over-prescriptive bureaucracy, and I have a horrible suspicion that what is proposed here — even a small proportion of it — will make those things unworkable, and may even have the unfortunate, I think, of reducing the
free market further, so that those houses that are not affected will in fact increase in price dramatically, thus accentuating the problem.

Cymuned

As we said to the Committee, we are looking forward to presenting our ideas on the economic regeneration of rural communities in due course.

The kind of Housing Authority we propose in paragraph 6.1 of our written presentation would be primarily a research organisation, and thus would surely have only a small staff and a comparatively straightforward brief. We do not share your
fear that it would become a bloated bureaucracy. Its function would be to assist planning-authorities in formulating accurate assessments of local housing needs, and to secure consistency in the methods of arriving at these assessments throughout
Wales. Its relationship with the local planning authorities would thus be not dissimilar to that of the WJEC with the local education authorities.

We do recognise the danger of inflation in the resale prices of existing housing stock, in a context where the creation of new housing stock is subject to regulation. This is a matter on which The Welsh Language Society has done interesting and important work, in promulgating its proposals for a Property Law for Wales (1990/92, revised 1999). These are available in an English version on:

www.cymdeithas.com/dadlwytho/deddf_eiddo.en.pdf

Sections 04.6 and 04.7 of that document make detailed proposals for the regulation of the resale process in a way that would restrain price-inflation while also ensuring that the owners of property did not suffer financial loss. We commend these proposals to your attention.

Tom Middlehurst AM

Well, I think it’s important that we have a measured and considered debate about an issue that does confront us. There are problems — there is a housing crisis in rural areas. Of course, it isn’t just a Welsh phenomenon — I think the report, you know, accepts that. But like Peter, I think the analysis in many areas is good, the assumptions that are made from that analysis I would very very strongly question. And I do worry that emphasis that’s put on the language is potentially divisive, attempts to socially engineer communities is negative, I think, and divisive, and I worry deeply about the social cohesion of this country when issues like this are, perhaps, reported in the way they have been. I make no accusations against Cymuned
this morning, I think the presentation’s been measured, and responsible, and I accept that, but I do question the validity of some of the solutions that they put forward. I don’t think it will achieve the objectives they wish to achieve. I think it’ll have a
negative impact on the local economy, I think there are many people in rural areas who will regard the driving down of house-prices in their area as negative impact on individuals and on the economy.

I think some of the analysis I referred to earlier — the issue about over-development. I mean, I have experienced over-development in previous areas of this country where I’ve lived, and the consequences and impact on local culture have been enormous, and that’s an issue we must address. Now whether that culture is based on a language or a dialect — and can I say that dialects of some of the communities I’ve lived in in Lancashire have been absolutely swamped by inward migration. Now I think these are the sort of issues we need to address, of how we preserve local cultures, and in the context of Wales, of course, the Welsh language is a very important part of local culture.

What the Assembly is trying desperately to do is to maintain a consensus, and I think we’ve made some progress in promoting our aims of creating a bilingual society in Wales with mutual respect for both languages, where people can use the language
of their choice, and that is very important, and I think there are disastrous consequences of proposals like this, to the consensus that we have built. I mean, I’ve said this on other occasions — at worst I think there’s an ambivalence in the English-speaking areas of Wales towards the policies that we’re pursuing, and at best there’s wholehearted support, and that’s reflected in the growth of community language scheme, Mentrau Iaith, in many areas, for instance in Flintshire, where’ve been very
prominent and successful local community initiatives, and it’s on a voluntary basis that we’re going to promote the future revival of the language, and not by rigging or trying to attempt to socially engineer our communities.

So I think it’s important — I believe that Cymuned came here this morning in a constructive way, and I accept that, but I do question very much that their solutions to the problem will have an adverse impact on what they’re trying to achieve. So I
hope that — I mean this is a wide issue — we’re talking about housing this morning in particular — and, yes I think, I’m pleased to see they welcome the initiatives to promote the Homebuy Scheme, and that has been positive, and they’re asking for more funding for that, and I’m sure the Minister, that won’t be lost on the Minister.

They’re the ways to move forward, and I do recognise that rural areas in Wales, and in England, and in Scotland, are suffering, because of perhaps, the modern phenomena — it’s easy to migrate these days, I mean the world is a much smaller place — people have always migrated, for social and economic reasons, throughout our history, but it’s much easier to do it now. And in fact it’s of enormous benefit to communities that
people do migrate, because they bring experience, they enrich the local culture, but I recognise that over-development can have an adverse impact, and I think through the planning process, we must look to control development in a way that does not adversely affect the local community and its culture.

Cymuned

1. ” …I do question the validity of some of the solutions that [Cymuned] put forward. I don’t think it will achieve the objectives they wish to achieve. I think it’ll have a negative impact on the local economy, I think there are many many people in rural areas who will regard the driving down of house-prices in their area as negative
impact on individuals…”

The Welsh Language Society has done interesting and important work on how to reduce house-price levels over time without causing hardship and injustice to property-owners, in promulgating its proposals for a Property Law for Wales (1990/92, revised 1999). These are available in an English version on:

www.cymdeithas.com/dadlwytho/deddf_eiddo.en.pdf

Sections 04.6 and 04.7 of that document make detailed proposals for the regulation of the resale process in a way that would restrain price-inflation while also ensuring that the owners of property did not suffer financial loss. We commend these
proposals to your attention.

We doubt the validity of the implied assumption that a situation of unregulated house-price inflation is beneficial to a local economy. A process which makes it unviable for economically active people to remain in an area, and at the same time replaces them
with people who are economically inactive, surely cannot promote the long-term economic health of any community.

As we said to the Committee, we are looking forward to presenting our ideas on the economic regeneration of rural communities in due course.

2. ” …I think these are the sort of issues we need to address, of how we preserve local cultures, and in the context of Wales, of course, the Welsh language is a very important part of local culture. What the Assembly is trying desperately to do is
to maintain a consensus… and I think there are disastrous consequences of proposals like this, to the consensus that we have built.”

Between 1997 and the beginning of 2001, the true consensus was a consensus of silence, in which the Welsh language was on no-one’s political agenda. People in majority Welsh-speaking communities were having to watch in mute helplessness as the cultural fabric of their community continued to disintegrate, while the problem was seemingly ignored by politicians of all persuasions. What Cymuned wants to see now is the creation of a new consensus, in which the Welsh language belongs to
everyone in Wales, but which acknowledges that if Welsh-speaking communities cease to exist, then to all extents and purposes it will belong to no-one.

3. ” … it’s on a voluntary basis that we’re going to promote the future revival of the language, and not by rigging or trying to attempt to socially engineer our communities.”

British life is replete with instances of the fact that voluntary measures by themselves cannot countervail the operation of a strong and unregulated market — in this case the housing market. Adjustment of the planning and housing framework by legislative and governmental measures in favour of vulnerable communities is essential — as indeed you acknowledged in your remarks on the Homebuy Scheme and the planning process. We do not believe that our proposals amount to social engineering — rather that they are a framework for judicious enabling.

4. ” …it’s of enormous benefit to communities that people do migrate, because they bring experience, they enrich the local culture…”

This issue has been tackled in our answer to Janet Davies. Migration does enrich local communities, and Cymuned believes that migration is part and parcel of modern life. Our argument is with migration patterns on a scale that knocks out the ability of communities to regenerate themselves linguistically.

Janet Ryder AM

It is a very significant issue, this, and I think it’s one that has a particular impact on housing, which is our concern in this Committee, and the provision of housing. We’ve talked today about housing strategies being developed by local authorities; I think this issue shows the need for those strategies to have to reflect the needs of their communities. And I think it does emphasise again something that we’ve always pressed for — the need for an All-Wales Survey of Housing Needs, so that we
know the actual need for housing within Wales, and we’re providing for that need — we’re not providing for speculative building, but actually providing for that need.

Tied in to that, the report does highlight the need for Language Impact Surveys to be carried out, and I’m sure Cymuned are aware that Owen John Thomas has recently been very successful in getting the Minister to accept that Language Impact Surveys will now come forward as part of the planning process, and I’m sure they will welcome that move.

The other point I’d like to pick up on, which again are highlighted within this report, and which this Committee can move some way towards, are again — coming from the
previous report — the need to look at licensing of HMOs, and not just HMOs, but the licensing of the whole of the rented sector. If we can bring in an adequate licensing scheme, which ensures that the property we’re offering for rent, whether it’s in
a House of Multiple Occupation or just an ordinary for-rent property, is of a good standard, you will necessarily drive out the poorer-quality standard. That in itself should have an impact on what Cymuned are trying to achieve, as well as ensuring that people who are renting property can be satisfied that they’re renting quality property.

The other issue that I think we do need to look at in this Committee is that of summer properties — not whether they’re allowed to have planning permission or not, but what actually happens to them during the winter, and the fact that sometimes summer properties are let on longer-term lets during the winter period, and then come the summer those longer-term people are asked to vacate the property. Now they’ve moved in, and they are then being made homeless, and it is up to the local
authority, then, to house those people — there’s a whole argument about whether they’ve made themselves homeless, whether they knew that let was coming to an end or not — at the end of the day it falls on the local authority to house those people. Because of the needs that those people have, it has the effect of shooting them to the top of the housing list, and they are then housed, and I think that that is something that perhaps we as a Committee would like to consider at some time, that whole aspect of properties are used throughout the year.

And that would also impinge on housing waiting-lists and how points are awarded on those housing waiting-lists, and I think that members of this Committee will be aware that there are a number of professional groups now, within housing, who are
starting to question how we apportion points on that waiting-list, and perhaps whether we should be re-looking at what those criterias are for being on that housing-list, so perhaps again that is something that the Minister and yourself
might like to look at bringing a paper forward for.

And lastly, the issue that Peter Black raised about estate-agents making people aware, when they move into Wales, that there actually is a different culture here, because quite frankly some people move in and they are not aware that there is a different
culture here — there are many different cultures, but in Wales there is a particular dominantly different culture. And there are examples of very good practice in this, and perhaps the Committee might like to look at the work done by Menter Iaith
Dinbych/Conwy, who actually have developed a welcome pack which many estate-agents in that area now give to people who are looking for properties, and I think it’s very helpful for people moving in, it helps them become accustomed to the area
and it helps them get a feel for the culture, so perhaps we might like to look at that as well. Thank you.

Cymuned

We hope the suggestion about bringing forward a paper on waiting-list points-score systems is taken up, and we would be very interested to learn of future developments in this field.

Peter Law AM

Well I’d first of all like to compliment Cymuned on the presentation they’ve made, a very sincere presentation, and I respect them very much in what they’re trying to achieve here. This is an extremely challenging issue for us — for anyone — and whatever we do is never going to be enough, bluntly, and I do sympathise very much with what they’re trying to achieve at the end of the day, because we’ve got to be very careful. I mean, you know, we’re seeing, the Welsh language as being subject to considerable pressure because, effectively, of the evolution of Britain as a multi-cultural society — we can’t escape from that, because we’re not that big when you look at the whole of the United Kingdom, and it’s a fact of life.

We’ve got to be careful that we don’t create division and discrimination in the way we try to deal with that, at the same time showing very positively the support and sympathy that we have in believing very much in wanting to protect that gem of
our own culture in Wales, the Welsh language, which I very, very much support. It’s how you go about it, and I think what we’ve heard today, in the time that the Assembly’s been in, are two great good examples.

I mean the Homebuy Scheme, which we’re delighted, and it’s very nice to hear it acknowledged here, from people who are in the forefront of the campaign, and that is one way of doing it, and doing it without division, and discrimination, and I was very pleased, and the Minister’s recognised that and doubled the money for it, and hopefully we can develop that more. And we’ve also heard that the Minister for Planning has agreed to Language Impact Surveys, which is a move in the right
direction, because nothing is easy, when everybody is pressing a button for judicial reviews, and we’ve got market forces and all the rest of it, you’ve got to be very careful how you address these things. I don’t think the answer is to develop a sort of
locked-in inner Welsh-speaking territories, which is a possibility if you’re not careful, because, you know, you can’t do that, and you’ve got to remember you’ve got to be able to create opportunities for everybody, because within all of these areas, although they may be predominantly Welsh-speaking, there’ll be English-only monoglot people as well, and they’ve got to have an opportunity to be remembered in this respect.

A number of points [that] have been made here today relate to local authorities, but we mustn’t interfere, in my opinion, with local democracy. I mean that’s what they’re elected for: they are the people on the ground who understand the needs of their
communities, and I think — I hope Cymuned has, in fact, had discussions with the Welsh Local Government Association, because I think there is a need for them to have some sort of consultation with them, to be able to talk to them, because
these are the deliverers of services. These are the people for instance that draw up the Housing Operational Plan, and whilst there’ve been difficulties in the past with the provision of properties, local authorities have, historically, never had sufficient resources, and with the change of development of course, Housing Associations have not always had as much as they wanted. But then there’s been differences of opinion
between local authorities and Housing Associations about development — it’s been fraught with difficulty, and when you talk about some things being made statutory, I mean they can have devastating effects on the economy of an area, I have to agree with what’s been said here.

It isn’t just that, I mean, well, there are so many people to be considered, you just can’t sort of write out estate-agents and people like that who are involved, and jobs and solicitors and all the rest of it, I mean they need to be consulted. I wonder if
Cymuned have talked perhaps to the Welsh branch of the Chartered Surveyors or to the Estate Agents’ Association to see if they can get by cooperation some support for what they call a welcome pack, which I welcome very much the idea of. But I don’t think you can create a statute for a welcome pack, bluntly, and I don’t think you can actually realistically bring in a lot of the bureaucratic suggestions that are there on planning, although it’s another Committee, Chair, I think we’ve got to go very careful about this, because I think we could see a terrific reaction here, you know, from people, you know, who perhaps have not got the same sympathy or understanding of the need for us to do all we can to be able to preserve and support and develop the Welsh language and the opportunities for those who speak it in the future, by choice, because it has to be by freedom of choice.

And when we talk about holiday homes, we have to remember this, I mean, you know, holiday homes do bring money in, in tourism and economy, you know, in some of these areas, when you look at them in the winter, have got nothing at all. Now
I’m not saying that we should have a mass development of holiday homes, and I know there have been areas where they have been very detrimental to the community, and I have to recognise in some respects, but one has to say that overall, it is important to the economy and tourism of Wales, and the local authority in many respects has discretion on the multiplier as far as Council Tax is concerned. I think you’ll find, I may be wrong, but I think you’ll find that the local authority has discretion where they’re dealing with the Council Tax, so you see that is again something that is already there, and it is a matter for local authorities.

So I think that I’d be very interested to hear more about what the Lake District is doing, because I was responsible for that portfolio at one time, and it was just coming in then, and what we heard from Exmoor recently, because I think it helps us to
concentrate, because there is an overwhelming sympathy here, to want to do what we can, bearing in mind that we have a multi-cultural society and we want to be fair to everybody without positive discrimination. But I think that if we work together we can achieve a lot, and I think Homebuy has certainly proven that we’re all on the same wavelength to try to give the opportunity that we need for the Welsh language to be developed in the future.

Cymuned

1. “…we’re seeing… the Welsh language as being subject to considerable pressure because, effectively, of the evolution of Britain as a multi-cultural society…”

We remain to be convinced that the growth of multi-culturalism is a principal source of pressure on the Welsh language, given that the number of people of non-UK origin in rural Wales is very low, and seems set to remain so for an indefinite time to come.
As we remarked at the end of our session with the Committee, we welcome multi-culturalism; but given that, historically, Welsh is unique to Wales, we believe that the Welsh language and its culture should retain a special status in Wales in whatever
multi-cultural future evolves. No doubt most English-speaking residents of England would feel the same about the English language; and the Home Secretary has of course given a measure of official validation to that viewpoint recently.

We are slightly puzzled by the number of references made by the Committee to multi-culturalism as a reason for treading carefully in respect of support for the Welsh language. We hope multi-culturalism is not becoming a new mantra for inaction in the matter of safeguarding the language’s continuance. Adopting such a mantra would betray the true meaning of multi-culturalism. In the sense that multi-culturalism is promoting the contribution minority cultures make to wider society it could be
argued that multi-culturalism and promoting the Welsh language are one and the same thing.

2. ” …I don’t think the answer is to develop a sort of locked-in inner Welsh-speaking territories…”

We agree. The answer is to strengthen majority Welsh-speaking communities by means of planning and economic development measures that enable local people who wish to remain in their communities to do so, and by means of active and centrally-supported measures to assimilate incomers linguistically and culturally.

3. “A number of points [that] have been made here today relate to local authorities, but we mustn’t interfere, in my opinion, with local democracy…”

As we commented during our session with the Committee, we do not feel that a strengthening of Planning Guidance and Advice (for instance), with a view to prioritising local needs in the housing market, amounts to interference with local
democracy — rather the reverse, in fact.

4. ” …and when you talk about some of things being made statutory, I mean they can have devastating effects on the economy of an area…”

” …I don’t think you can actually realistically bring in a lot of the bureaucratic suggestions that are there on planning…”

We would be grateful if you could expand upon these points.

5. “And when we talk about holiday homes, we have to remember… holiday homes do bring money in, in tourism and economy…”

We would fundamentally question the implied assumption here. Dwellings which stand empty for most months of the year cannot be channels of financial injection into the economy of a community during those months. In terms of stimulating
economic activity, the use of dwellings as holiday homes can be no substitute for their use as permanent homes by people who are economically active in
their community; and this should be an aim of economic policy in all parts of rural Wales.

David Lloyd AC

’Dan ni’n sôn am fater hollbwysig yn y fan hyn, achos ’dan ni’n sôn am bobol ydan ni’n ymwybodol iawn, yn dod o Ogledd Cymru’n wreiddiol, bod ein cymunedau naturiol
Gymraeg ’u hiaith ni dan fygythiad enbydus, a dyna be’ sy’ wedi ysgogi hyn. A ’dw i’n gwbod am y geirie sy’ wedi câl ’u deud dros y misoedd dwytha’, ond ar ddiwedd y dydd ’dan ni’n edrych am weithredu rwan. A ia, ’dan ni yn sôn am sefyllfa sy’
efalla ddim yn unigryw i Gymru, lle mae ’na fater sydd yn bwysig i leiafrif mewn un rhan, ond yn sylfaenol mae’n rhaid i ni fod yn gallu ymateb i ofynion y lleiafrif hynny, achos ma’r bygythiad yn wir, yn wirioneddol, a ma’n cymunedau naturiol
Gymraeg ni yn diflannu.

A felly, tra’n croesawu’r cyflwyniad, ma’r pwyntia ynglyn â’r busnes tai ’ma wedi câl ’u neud — ’dan ni yn, ar ddiwedd y dydd, y pwer i weithredu yn fan hyn gan y Llywodraeth yma, yn y Cynulliad — ’dan ni’n edrych am ymateb gan y
Llywodraeth i ddod i’r afael — mae ’na gonsyrn gwirioneddol wedi cael ’i godi dros y misoedd, mae ’na nifer o eirie wedi cael ’u hadrodd dros y misoedd, ond ar ddiwedd y dydd ’dan ni’n edrych am ymateb, a gweithredu, gan y Llywodraeth, sydd yn unig efo’r grym i weithredu yn y mater yma.

Mae ’na gri gan ein cymunedau ni — maen nhw dros Gymru i gyd — ond yn benodol pan mae’r iaith Gymraeg o dan fygythiad enbydus fel hyn, mae’r gri yna, ac fel Llywodraeth yng Nghymru ma’n rhaid i ni wrando ar y gri ’na o’r galon. Ie, mae o yn fater tai, mae o’n fater yr economi lleol, swyddi — dyna pam ’dan ni yn edrych ar y system, ch’w’od, gynllunio ac ati — mae ’na bob math o bethe i edrych arno fe, ond ’dan ni’m isio jest eisio edrych ar y peth ’ma. Ma’n rhaid i ni weithredu ar fyrder, ’dan ni’n sôn am argyfwng yn fan hyn — mae o’n argyfwng economi cefn gwlad, mae o’n argyfwng darpariaeth tai cefn gwlad, mae ’ne nifer o bethe’n dod at ’i gilydd, a ’dan ni’n edrych ar nifer o wahanol portffolios i gydweithio ac i gydlynu efo’i gilydd i ddod ’fyny efo ateb, achos ar ddiwedd y dydd, rhaid i ni gâl gweithredu ar y mater
yma, ac ymateb cyflawn yn y Llywdodraeth. Diolch yn fawr.

Cymuned

1. Rydym yn cytuno’n llwyr.

Edwina Hart AM

If I can reply to a number of points that have been raised by Members — I think this has been a very interesting presentation, and I think it will allow us to have discussion of issues that are of importance.

Well, can I say that the notion that all these pensioners will be skipping over the border for bus passes I’m afraid was rather lost on me, because my experience in English-speaking mainly Gower, if I look at the Gower peninsula, is that they’re very
wealthy the pensioners [that] come in, and they are actually purchasing properties of the nature that you [gesturing to Gwilym Euros Roberts of Cymuned] indicated with the first advertisement, and are coming in with two lots of income, picking up other types of employment, and are actually bringing some money into some elements of the local economy.

Well, can I say on the issue of housing, what happens in rural areas with second homes is not specifically a Welsh language issue. I come from a constituency where I have villages within the Gower — in fact I was just commenting, Peter [Black] and I were just commenting on it — where there are a considerable number of holiday lets, which do have an impact on the community, where you do see the fact what happens in terms of the school population, what happens in terms of the post office, and all those issues, so it is a broader issue, about the impact on rural communities in general.

If I can say to Janet [Davies], I’m concerned about bureaucracy of any additional systems that may have come in and that may be referred to in the paper, because I certainly would not want us to see the establishment of a Housing Authority for Wales,
because I think that would conflict with such organisations as local planning authorities, and I think I’d have grave reservations about going down — along those lines. And also as well, the definition you had in your document of Welsh-speaking areas, where Welsh is the everyday language of a substantial part of the population, you know I’d be very interested in due course to know what type of term that was, in
percentage terms is it substantial, and does it include pockets like Lampeter and Aberystwyth as well as the rural heartlands as well, it’d be interesting to see how that definition was arrived at.

Also as well, there are some of the points the Committee alluded to — Janet [Davies], I think you spoke about in the first instance that we need a proper assessment — we are
actually trying to fund some of these issues already. And when Janet Ryder came in, she talked about HMOs and licensing — we’re absolutely committed to the agenda of HMOs and licensing. You’ve talked as well about what we should do about points systems — we’ve already got six pilot projects being run on this, which I’ve already reported in Committee.

And you mentioned Menter Iaith Denbigh — those issues, those issues are already being pursued by my officials. So at the end of the day, all the points that have come through today have not been the subject of any lobbying, or by any other political party pressurising, it’s actually something that’s been on the agenda, when Peter[Law] was there as, I mean, Housing Minister before me, and when I’ve been Minister. And when it comes to the whole issue of rural housing, I’m glad about the compliments regarding the Homebuy, but the Homebuy emanated from the fact that I as Minister wished to do something. And a lot of these initiatives have come because
I[’ve] chosen to do so, because I represent half of what is a rural constituency, and the other half which is a very Welsh-speaking area — constituency with Gower and
Pontarddulais and Clydach areas, so I understand very much, very much that my constituency [is] a mirror image of what Wales is.

Now if I can speak about the Social Housing Grant, because I think I do have to say something about this, Chair — it’s currently at £56.4 million this year, and in accordance with the National Assembly’s commitment to the principle of devolved
responsibility, the bulk of the budget is placed at the disposal of local authorities. Now over £18 million of the SHG budget is allocated [to] authorities that may [be] regarded as predominantly rural. There is no limit to the amount of the SHG budget that authorities can designate for Homebuy in rural areas, and to meet the aspirations, I think, of yourselves [Cymuned], authorities would need to designate just one third of the total amount of SHG available to them. [In] the current financial year they’ve chosen to designate over £16.6 million to other housing priorities, so I can send out the clear message from here. Now I have tried to encourage local authorities [to] be more flexible, with the Homebuy Scheme with additional
1.5 percent for the match funding, and I very much hope that this will continue, and this brings the total amount of SHG available to rural authorities in 2001/2002
to £20 million, and if you look at some figures with rural authorities, the rural
authorities with the Homebuy supplements are of course Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Ynys Môn, Neath — and Monmouthshire, and into Pembrokeshire, and in Ceredigion it’s £200,000, but of course in Gwynedd
there’s £320,000. Now I will be assessing how this is going [at] the halfway stage in the year, and I’ll report to Committee to see if we’re on course in some of these areas, to see what’s been undertaken.

Now on the Homebuy Scheme, I think it has been good moving that threshold to 50%, because I think it has sent out the appropriate messages. I’m obviously delighted that people are starting to take it up. But there are some significant issues as well, can I say, in the Social Housing Grant to Registered Social Landlords, to buy and where necessary renovate rural properties to make available to local people at affordable rents where they see this as a priority. Now, high costs and difficulty meeting the Assembly’s quality standards have been quoted as reasons for this level of activity. As a consequence we have now written to local authorities and Registered Social
Landlords, giving ourselves discretion not to meet all the quality requirements where the RSL and the local authorities agree that the housing need is so great and wouldn’t otherwise be met, so I think that’s quite significant.

Also in certain areas, local authorities may if they wish, place restrictions on homes bought under the Right to Buy, so that the purchaser is only able to resell the property to someone who has lived or worked in that area for three years or more.
The areas concerned are the National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and other areas designated in the legislation as rural. Now the Right to Acquire, for tenants of Registered Social Landlords, does not apply in designated rural
areas. Now the Assembly has the power to change the designation of rural areas, and we have consulted local authorities on this, and the consultation period ended at the 8th of October, and I’m currently assessing this, but the broad response is to welcome some of the proposal we’re doing. And on the planning side, Sue [Essex]’s study is looking at some of the wider issues regarding the Lake District, it’ll go into the
wider issues regarding Exmoor, and we’ll certainly have a clear picture on some of the issues [that’ll] arise when her work has been completed.

Well I have to say on behalf of the administration as Minister today, this has been an area of policy that I’ve striven to develop since I’ve been Local Government Minister. I realise that others have produced documents, and I look towards Plaid Cymru here, about their strategy in regard to rural homes, but the majority of strategy I can assure you has actually been acquired from some of the work I’ve been doing and I’ve
replied on, in terms of letters from various people, to be more than helpful to other Assembly Members, Chair, because it’s actually Government that has actually moved this policy along, and we’re absolutely committed to move this policy along — we want to welcome people into Wales, we want to have economic development that is necessary to keep villages alive; at the same time we have to have the balance.

Now on the issue that was raised about the welcome pack, I think that estate-agents and others would be very happy to look at these welcome packs, and I’m very happy today to look at whether I can initiate any development work, in conjunction with the Culture Committee, on the welcome pack, into Wales, that I could then speak to various organisations about whether they’d be prepared to have, and to hand out.

Now the other specific point was made, that William made, that was very interesting, about what was happening with landlords encouraging, and there is some evidence that those with multi-use properties, particularly [in] Abergele and Rhyl, are actually advertising elsewhere and getting people in, and there are issues around this, but there are also issues about the way things are done. But if I went into the details of the report we had from the organisation to look at, there are obviously issues here about what d’you do with the estate-agents — they all use the internet to advertise properties — you know, some of the things that are said, I couldn’t legislate for to stop, in terms of regulation, I’d have massive bureaucracy to have to deal with it, so I think we’ve got to concentrate on practical solutions. For me, you see, this is very much a socialist issue, isn’t it, people should be able to live where they are, work where they are, and speak in the language of their choice, so that’s what underpins my policy agenda, and it’s all about economic prosperity issues in my opinion. It’s not about a divide on language, because English-speaking rural communities as well, all across Wales, you know the Gower, places like the Gower, looking at Pembrokeshire, are equally affected by these changes.

Cymuned

” …what happens in rural areas with second homes is not specifically a Welsh language issue. I come from a constituency… where there are a considerable number of holiday lets, which do have an impact on the community, where you do see the fact what happens in terms of the school population, what happens in terms of the post office, and all those issues, so it is a broader issue, about the impact on rural communities in general.”

1. We agree. And it is therefore worth repeating the point that a number of the proposals we make would, in giving priority to the needs of local people (without regard to their first language), bring benefits to all rural communities, not just the majority Welsh-speaking ones.

2. ” …I’m concerned about bureaucracy of any additional systems that may have come in and that may be referred to in the paper, because I certainly would not want us to see the establishment of a Housing Authority for Wales, because I think that would conflict with such organisations as local planning authorities…”

The kind of Authority we propose in paragraph 6.1 would be primarily a research organisation, and thus would have only a small staff and a comparatively straightforward brief. We do not share your fear that this would become a bloated bureaucracy. So far from conflicting with planning authorities, its function would be to assist them in formulating accurate assessments of local housing needs, and to
secure consistency in the methods of arriving at these assessments throughout Wales. Its relationship with the local planning authorities would thus be not dissimilar to that of the WJEC with the local education authorities.

” …the definition you had in your document of Welsh-speaking areas, where Welsh is the everyday language of a substantial part of the population, you know I’d be very interested in due course to know what type of terms that was, in percentage terms is it
substantial, and does it include pockets like Lampeter and Aberystwyth as well as the rural heartlands as well, it’d be interesting to see how that definition was arrived at.”

3. In terms of a definition of Welsh-speaking communities, we are talking about communities where over 50% of the population speak Welsh. In rural Wales, these tend to be communities in which over 90% of the indigenous population can speak
Welsh. The lower figure for Welsh-speakers in the community as a whole is a result of substantial in-migration. So although a figure of 50% may appear rather low, we are in fact talking about parts of Wales (rural Ceredigion, for example) which are
Welsh-speaking communities, but which have failed to linguistically assimilate newcomers in the past 20-30 years. Obviously this is a matter the Culture Committee will want to look at.

This should include small urban centres such as Lampeter, and other towns of similar size in north and west Wales. Market towns like Llanrwst, for example, are as badly affected by the inflation of house prices as the surrounding countryside. There could be many different ways of reaching a definition of those areas where plans to tackle the housing crisis could be operated. Some of these might not be linguistic. By removing stamp duty from properties in those parts of Britain which are depressed, the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has already accepted the principle of local intervention in the housing market to alleviate need (in this case to encourage economic regeneration). Cymuned welcomes the principle.

The Chancellor’s proposals are to be introduced at a very local level, at a ward level. Cymuned feels that this does set a moral basis for targeting Welsh-speaking communities which are under peculiar stress during the current property boom. Research available at a county level should be able to locate those very wards where the percentage of homes being sold to people from outside the county is so high (50%+), that this must mean that local people are being priced out of the housing market.
Money from the Home Buy scheme needs to reach these communities.

Cymuned would not be opposed to defining the geographic area affected by the housing crisis in terms of rurality, as well as in terms of density of Welsh speakers. Cymuned has always accepted that English-speaking rural communities in South
Pembrokeshire, Gower, Monmouthshire, Powys, Wrexham Maelor and other parts of Wales face some of the socio-economic problems faced by Welsh-speaking communities. There is nothing wrong with treating the housing crisis as a rural crisis
as well as a language crisis, and developing housing policies for rural Wales that would tackle the problems of both Welsh-speaking and English-speaking communities.

4. ” …Janet [Davies], I think you spoke about in the first instance that we need a proper assessment [of local housing need] — we are actually trying to fund some of these issues already… You’ve talked as well about what we should do about points systems — we’ve already got six pilot projects being run on this… And you mentioned Menter Iaith Denbigh — those issues… are already being pursued by my officials.”

Cymuned sees one of its key roles, in the months and years to come, as being to maintain a dialogue with local authorities about the extent of their use and implementation of resources and powers already available to them. Accordingly, we would be very grateful for further details of all the initiatives mentioned in your comments above.

5. “[In] the current financial year they [the local authorities] [ha]ve chosen to designate over £16.6 million to other housing priorities [than Homebuy], so I can send out the clear message from here. Now I have tried to encourage local authorities [to] be more flexible, with the Homebuy Scheme…”

With the same end in view as is indicated in comment 5 above, we would be grateful for copies of both the pieces of correspondence mentioned in this passage.

6. “Now I will be assessing how this [i.e. application of Homebuy supplements] is going [at] the halfway stage in the year, and I’ll report to Committee to see if we’re on course in some of these areas, to see what’s been undertaken.”

We would be grateful for a copy of this report in due course.

7. “But there are some significant issues as well, can I say, in the Social Housing Grant to Registered Social Landlords, to buy and where necessary renovate rural properties to make available to local people at affordable rents where they see this as a priority. Now, high costs and difficulty meeting the Assembly’s quality standards have been quoted as reasons for this level of activity. As a consequence we have now written to local authorities and Registered Social Landlords, giving ourselves discretion not to meet all the quality requirements where the RSL and the local authorities agree that the housing need is so great and wouldn’t otherwise be met…”

On the face of it, the correspondence mentioned above would appear to give some cause for alarm: Cymuned would not wish to see local housing needs being met at the expense of accepting reduced standards in the quality of housing provided. That would simply create an additional burden of essential renovations in the medium to long term, together with an increase in the incidence of social problems of the kinds traditionally associated with poor housing. We would point out that wide iscrepancies
in the quality of housing in a community are liable to lead to ghettoisation of the economically less favoured in society; and as we have remarked in our written comments to several of your colleagues, Cymuned is not in favour of ghettoisation of any kind.

8. “Now the Right to Acquire, for tenants of Registered Social Landlords, does not apply in designated rural areas. Now the Assembly has the power to change the designation of rural areas, and we have consulted local authorities on this, and the consultation period ended at the 8th of October, and I’m currently assessing this, but the broad response is to welcome some of the proposal we’re doing.”

We would be grateful for details of the final conclusions drawn from this consultation exercise, when available.

9. “I’m very happy today to look at whether I can initiate any development work, in conjunction with the Culture Committee, on the welcome pack, into Wales, that I could then speak to various organisations about whether they’d be prepared to have, and to hand out.”

We would be grateful to be kept informed of developments in this connection.

10. ” …there are obviously issues here about what do you do with the estate-agents — they all use the internet to advertise properties — you know, some of the things that are said, I couldn’t legislate for to stop, in terms of regulation, I’d have massive bureaucracy to have to deal with it, so I think we’ve got to concentrate on practical
solutions…”

We would respectfully question how many economically deprived families of the kind that are being attracted by private landlords and estate-agents to areas such as Abergele and Rhyl (and also, increasingly, to small rural towns such as Llanrwst) can actually afford access to the internet. We would suggest that more traditional avenues of communication such as newspaper-advertisements remain the most significant ones here — and that regulation of this kind of advertising would be comparatively straightforward, without necessitating the creation of a large bureaucracy.

More evidence to the Culture Committee

March 16th, 2006

Answers to Questions on Culture from Assembly Members

When Cymuned appeared before the Culture Committee in the National Assembly on November 7, there was no time to answer a range of questions from Assembly Members. Cymuned therefore answered these questions in written form. These answers, as well as a transcript of the relevant part of the meeting are below.

The Culture Committee of the National Assembly
Meeting of 7-11-01
Members’ Questions to the Deputation from Cymuned and Cymuned’s answers to those questions

Delyth Evans AM

If we follow the path of the sorts of recommendations that you, Cymuned, have
proposed, one problem (though I can see the value of several of your recommendations) is the fear that we are creating a ghetto for the Welsh language,
and creating a clear division in Wales between the Welsh-speaking west, where
everything Welsh happens, and the English-speaking east, where nothing Welsh
happens. And the last thing we want to do, I should imagine, is to create a ghetto for
the language. So I would like to hear your response to that.

Cymuned

It is not Cymuned’s wish to create a ghetto of any kind, or to see divisions being
created. The Oxford Dictionary gives two definitions of a ghetto: ‘an area etc.
occupied by an isolated group; an isolated or segregated group, community or area’;
Cymuned does not wish to see Welsh speakers or Welsh-speaking communities
becoming neither isolated nor segregated. Indeed, there is no risk that such a
development will occur: several decades have passed by now since the last
monolingual Welsh community ceased to exist, as such, and Cymuned accepts that
there will be no turning the clock back, in that respect.

What Cymuned is campaigning for are measures to strengthen Welsh-speaking
communities, by making it easier for local people to remain in their communities if they so wish, and by making it easier and more attractive to non-Welsh-speaking
in-migrants to learn the Welsh language and understand its culture. As we noted in
our written presentation to the Local Government and Housing Committee on 7th
November (in particular, paragraphs 1.4 and 0.9), we do not wish to keep people out
of communities, but rather, we wish to ensure economic parity and social justice for
local people. It is important to note that the types of measures we are proposing are
measures that would operate for the benefit of all local people non-Welsh-speakers
as well as Welsh speakers. The aim of strengthening the Welsh language per se would be realised through measures such as language planning.

You noted that you saw value in several of our recommendations. Contrary to the
assertions made in the media, the papers presented to the Assembly in readiness for
the committees on 7th November were not a Manifesto: rather, they will be developed further to form part of the draft Manifesto that Cymuned will publish in the Spring 2002 — and the observations and questions that we received in response to our presentations on 7th November have been useful in terms of revealing which aspects of our recommendations require further clarification as we develop this document.

No one has a monopoly on good ideas. One of the reasons for publishing our
presentations to the Assembly in booklet form was to invite the public, our members,
and Assembly Members themselves to respond to our proposals with observations
and practical suggestions.

Huw Lewis AM

I’ve read your paper very carefully, and most people will be aware that I’m profoundly worried by the sum total of the proposals you make. Let’s imagine that in ten years’ time the Assembly has adopted every dot and comma of your paper — it’s all been implemented and it’s all been funded, at unspecified cost. Would it not be the case that we would effectively have, according to your proposals, two communities within Wales — we would have one English-speaking community, or a community that
doesn’t speak Welsh, that would face restrictions and monitoring in terms of
accessing housing, which type of education their children would find available to them — that they would have the negative results of positive discrimination in employment to deal with as well — and we’d have another community which speaks Welsh, which had none of those restrictions placed upon it, that can range across the country and buy a house anywhere without any question being asked, that can expect the best in educational provision without, again, any difficulties for its children, and takes advantage of positive discrimination in terms of employment in the places where they live.

Do you not accept that there are people who are legitimately worried about this kind of proposal, because it will inevitably lead to tensions within Welsh society? Do you not accept that there are Human Right issues here, about one set of people within our
country having access to some advantages and others not? And do you not accept,
finally, that we will run straight into European legislation here? Wouldn’t it be the case
that in ten years’ time, when the Assembly had implemented your proposals, I could
move to any point in Europe between Warsaw and Madrid, and apply for a job, and
buy a home, without any questions being asked of me as a free citizen of the
European Union, but I could not move to Caernarfon and expect the same freedoms?

Now, I do not regard your proposals as — the sum total of them — there are interesting proposals within them, that are worth looking at — but the sum total I do not believe are compatible with the values of a free society. I’d like you to answer these points.

Cymuned

1. “…we would effectively have, according to your proposals, two communities within Wales — we would have one English-speaking community… that would face restrictions and monitoring in terms of accessing housing… [and] would have the negative results of positive discrimination in employment to deal with as well…”

Cymuned does not believe that the implementation of our proposals would lead to this situation, nor do we believe that such a situation would be desirable. It is important to note that the kind of measures we are proposing are aimed not at keeping people out of communities, but at promoting the economic and social well-being of local people in their localities — by which we mean all local people, whatever their first language. Several of our proposals, particularly in the Planning field, are already in force in areas such as the Lake District and the Isle of Jersey, and have recently been proposed for implementation in Exmoor; all we are asking for in this regard is that local authorities in Wales should have the same rights and official
encouragement to implement such policies as do local authorities in England.

The aim of securing the position of the Welsh language as such would be realised by means of measures such as language planning. The overall effect of instituting special measures to strengthen the rural economy to the point where young people (Welsh-speaking and otherwise) no longer had to leave rural communities for towns and cities, and of limiting new-build housing in rural areas to affordable housing for local people, and institutionalising the inclusion of Section 106 Conditions in relation to
the resale of such housing, would be to stabilise the rural housing market sufficiently to provide a breathing-space. This would enable the sort of community language measures we outline in Section 9 of our written submission to the Culture Committee to be effectively implemented. If local people (whatever their first language) were able to stay in their rural communities, and housing development were restricted to that which served identified and measured local needs rather than private speculative
interests, the effects of in-migration would cease to be a major problem.

To put it another way: it’s a matter of properly and reasonably regulating the housing market in the interests of community need, not of erecting obstacles to demand.

What Cymuned wants to see is fair access to the property market for people in the Welsh-speaking communities, not privileged access. As we indicate in paragraphs 0.9 and 1.4 of our written presentation to the Local Government and Housing Committee, Cymuned believes that intervention is required in the housing market in rural Wales in the interests of social justice and equal opportunity. We believe that local people must have the same opportunity as non-local people to own or rent homes.

2. “Do you not accept that there are Human Rights issues here… and… that we will run straight into European legislation here? Wouldn’t it be the case that… when the Assembly had implemented your proposals, I could move to any point in Europe… and apply for a job, and buy a home… but I could not move to Caernarfon and expect
the same freedoms?”

We are well aware of the provisions of Article 14 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (which is European in origin), and we do not believe that our proposals breach it. Nowhere in our proposals is there any suggestion that there should be restrictions on who shall apply for jobs (other than in cases where the nature of the post requires bilingual capability — a provision that is already in force in public bodies that are covered by
Welsh Language Policies ratified by the Welsh Language Board under the terms of the Welsh Language Act 1993). Nor do we make any suggestion that any people should be prevented from buying a home: our suggestions concern certain kinds of restriction on what types of home shall be built, and certain kinds of restriction as to what categories of people homes that are built from the present time onwards could be resold to (principally local people in need of affordable housing) — our proposals would not affect the resale or purchase of the private housing stock that already exists at the time of writing.

We feel confident that European precedents would lend support to a number of our proposals regarding regulation of planning and property-purchase in Welsh-speaking communities. We would refer you to the second and third paragraphs of Footnote 6 to our written presentation to the Local Government and Housing Committee on November 7th, which mention interesting legislative provisions in this field in several European locations, including the Finnish island of Ã…land, where the rights of the Swedish-speaking population are protected by international law, including
specific rights in the matter of owning land and business. We would repeat our comment that, insofar as the Welsh-speaking minority in Wales has virtually no protection against the operation of an unregulated housing market (to which, for economic reasons, it cannot gain access), it is currently something of an anomaly in the European context.

Lorraine Barrett AM

I concur with a lot of what Huw said, and there are some interesting bits in here that I
would like to pursue, over time and as this review progresses. A couple of areas I
have to raise, of concern — looking at your suggestion for local authorities in
Welsh-speaking areas, can I just say I think a lot of local authorities are making
efforts. I know when I was a Councillor on the Vale of Glamorgan, there were
opportunities there for Members of the Council and officers, and I think that’s still
continuing in a lot of local authorities, and I think it’s priorities. Obviously, you’ve
suggested there that there should be additional funding, and I think it is that issue of
priorities again, of where does the funding go and is the Welsh language such a
priority in all the local authority areas, so that’s obviously a debate that will continue,
but I wanted to ask you a specific question. In your call for up to £200m to be spent on language planning initiatives, which I have to say is a huge amount of money, looking at other things we spend money on, what exactly is included in that figure? Because that was a bit of a frightening figure for me.

And finally your call for various public bodies, the Welsh Language Board etc, the
Assembly’s Record of Proceedings and the Translation Unit, to be moved to your
heartlands, that bothers me as well because I want to look at the whole of Wales as
being a Welsh-speaking country, bilingual country, not just the heartlands, again, for
me that spells, you know, ghettoes. But what I would say to you on that, and ask you
to think about, when you ask for those bodies and those departments to move, we’re
talking about hundreds and hundreds of people who are living in maybe Cardiff,
Newport, Swansea, within Caerphilly, the Valleys, who travel to work here, they would have to move. If we go from where we are now, to what your aims are, all those
people would have to move, all their families en masse, and I don’t think it’s
absolutely necessary to take the employment opportunities to your heartlands,
because with e-mail and all the technology we have now, there are lots of
opportunities, I would suggest, for translators particularly, and we do have a shortage
of them, to work from home, work from centres within other areas of Wales, they don’t
physically have to be within a particular building at any one time, I would suggest, so
just a few comments and a couple of questions there, thank you.

Cymuned

1. “…I think it is that issue of priorities again, of where does the funding go and is the Welsh language such a priority in all the local authority areas…”

We accept that different authorities would have different priorities in respect to the Welsh language, according to the percentage of Welsh-speakers residing within their areas. Obviously, major increases in expenditure on encouraging and supporting the learning of Welsh are needed in the Welsh-speaking areas, which have been subject to heavy in-migration over the past 20 years.

2. “…in your call for up to £200m to be spent on language planning initiatives… what exactly is included in that figure?”

The figure was based on the Basque Autonomous Community’s current expenditure of 1.95% of its overall Budget on language planning. This does not include issues pertaining to broadcasting and education. We mentioned the figure of up to £200m to show how small, in an international context, expenditure on language planning in Wales is. Opinion polls in Wales have consistently shown that the majority of people in Wales feel good will towards Welsh and wish to promote the language. Current
expenditure levels on Welsh, which, in our opinion, are something of an historical anomaly, does not reflect the importance the people of Wales attach to keeping Welsh alive as a sustainable language.

As teaching Welsh to adults is a vital part of our language strategy, we would also like to note that much of our proposed ‘language expenditure’ would be money spent not on Welsh-speakers but on non-Welsh speakers.

3. “…your call for various public bodies… to be moved to your heartlands, that bothers me as well… I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to take the employment opportunities to your heartlands, because with e-mail and all the technology we have now, there are lots of opportunities… to work from home, work from centres within
other areas of Wales…”

Relocation is an issue with which Government has dealt in the past. Other governmental or quasi-governmental bodies have been moved en masse from one location to another in the past — for example, the Vehicle Licensing body to Morriston, and the Royal Mint to Llantrisant. The point of proposing such relocations is not solely to make communications between Welsh-speaking communities and the
Welsh-speaking bodies which specifically service them easier — as you commented, e-mail and so on achieve that nowadays. The main point is that the Welsh-speaking communities need to retain their young people if they are to thrive (we touch on aspects of this in paragraphs 4.3.ii, 6.2 and 6.5), and the purpose of the relocations would be to enable young people to follow a decent professional career in their own communities. From the point of view of bodies that depend on the Welsh language for their existence – such as S4C, the Welsh Language Board, translation units and
the like it makes no strategic sense to have them undermine the future
of the Welsh language by sucking out young Welsh-speakers from their
own communities.

From a socialist and social democratic point of view, Welsh-speaking communities are among some of the poorer communities within Wales, even within the Objective One area, and Welsh-speakers within these communities have less access to the jobs market than English-speakers. Moving sustainable public sector jobs to these communities fits in with the Assembly’s agenda of spreading prosperity around Wales.
Cymuned also supports spreading economic prosperity to deprived English-speaking communities. We would support the relocation of a major public body or bodies to towns like Aberdare or Merthyr Tydfil.

Alison Halford AM

Huw and Lorraine have also talked about the budget. When you say that you feel that
the expenditure is woefully inadequate, and that you also want the budget to be based
on international standards, I’d be grateful if you could just explore that, please,
bearing in mind that I represent a community in North Wales that has precious little
interest in the Welsh language, and as my colleagues have possibly said, would not
welcome that money is devoted to the Welsh language over and above what they
think that their demands are, such as a hospital in Holywell, and one or two important
issues like that.

You’ve also talked about — under 4.5 — could you explain what you are saying? You’re saying it’s necessary to introduce strong linguistic measures to enable
English-speaking in-migrants to learn Welsh: is that going to be a statutory demand, in
your way — in other words, it’s something that has actually to happen? Because that
could cause some problem with the economic development situation of this country,
where we want to present ourselves as a friendly, open, competitive organisation
welcoming businesses and all the rest of it.

And my third comment, please: at 6.7, you talk about the establishment of an
Economic Development Authority specifically for Welsh-speaking communities. How
can you justify that from discriminatory situations, please?

Cymuned

The questions about international standards are answered in our written reply to
Lorraine Barrett.

In the latter part of our verbal presentation on November 7th; we answered the point
about 4.5, but we would like to reinforce our message here. Learning Welsh cannot be
enforced in Wales by statutory demand. However we do believe that the recent
debate in England about the need for newcomers to understand the cultural climate
that they are moving into does have implications in Wales. In-migrants need to
understand their new communities. We see this as being promotion of good
citizenship. The Government of Wales should make a serious attempt to promote
Welsh as a language relevant to all individuals who live in Welsh-speaking
communities, regardless of ethnic background. Language learning needs to be
promoted in this respect as a strategic priority.

What is unacceptable to Cymuned is not that in-migrants choose not to learn Welsh
per se, but rather that the consequences of not enabling in-migrants to learn Welsh in
a proper and constructive manner is detrimental to both language communities. It can often lead to the application of a linguistic veto within Welsh-speaking communities, forcing the indigenous Welsh-speaking population to communicate in English. This then leads to linguistic tension.

The Government of Wales must tackle this problem by investing in community
language initiatives that are imaginative in teaching Welsh to in-migrants in an upbeat
and welcoming manner.

It remains to expand on the comments we made in response to the question
concerning the proposed Economic Development Authority.

All Economic Development Authorities have responsibility for an area that is
geographically defined. This was true, for example, of the Development Board for
Rural Wales, and it is true of many other examples in other European countries. The
principle of a geographical basis for directing economic development efforts has
already been established by Objective One Funding.

Our hope is that the Assembly looks seriously at the Udaras na Gaeltachta model on
Ireland’s western seaboard. The existence of Udaras na Gaeltachta is not a cause of
social friction in Ireland, and we do not believe that the establishment of a similar body in Wales need be the cause of social friction here. Indeed people from the east of
Ireland see Udaras as promoting a cultural resource that can be utilised by the nation
as a whole. They take their holidays on the Irish-speaking west coast, send their
children to Irish-language holiday camps, and see Irish as part of a wider strategy for
promoting tourism.

We would encourage the Culture Committee to visit Ireland to see what lessons can
be learnt in terms of economic development that promotes a minority culture in ways
that is acceptable to the majority culture as well.

Dafydd Wigley AM

May I request clarification on two or three points, so that I may have a better
understanding of what you’re saying? When you talk about creating new structures for
Welsh-speaking areas, are you confident that a majority of Welsh-speakers within the
Welsh-speaking areas would support this sort of programme?

Secondly, when you talk about outward migration, you refer only to those people who
are forced to leave for employment reasons. But there is, of course, another element
that chooses to leave. We are aware that there are people who work in Pen Llyn, for
example, who originate from Pen Llyn and who choose to reside in Caernarfon.
Therefore there are further questions, perhaps, than that.

And the third point that I would wish to bring up, when you refer to services that are
provided by private companies – placing a responsibility on them to provide through
the medium of Welsh – what sort of services have you got in mind? Because there is a
huge range. One accepts that when a statutory service has been privatised that the
responsibilities that existed previously should continue, but when you are talking about a corner shop, it becomes very difficult, doesn’t it, of necessity, and therefore I would be pleased to have some clarification on that point.

Cymuned

On the day we made our presentation, we had been in existence as an organisation
for barely four months, and during that time we have had to achieve a considerable
amount of work within tight time scales. Accordingly, we have not had an opportunity
to conduct detailed research into the public response to our ideas. However, the fact
that we have already gained over 750 members is significant. There is widespread
acknowledgement that the status quo is not an option for Welsh-speaking
communities.

We acknowledge that a percentage of young people do not wish to remain in the rural
areas and we deal with that point in paragraphs 6.18 a 6.19. We note that we would
prefer to see young people from Pen Llyn moving to Caernarfon rather than Cardiff.
In relation to paragraph 10.9, we realise, of course, that the legal requirements placed
on small businesses regarding the provision of a Welsh language service could not be
as extensive as those placed on bigger businesses. Even so, when one considers the
issues raised in paragraph 10.8, there is room to question how small a business has
to be before it is impossible for it to provide, for example, any Welsh speakers to deal
with the public.

There is a great deal of uneasiness in the Welsh speaking areas that pubs and post
offices, for instance, fail to provide a Welsh language service. To overcome this,
language legislation could be utilised. Or one could consider imaginative ways of
ensuring that the indigenous population are able to compete for such core businesses
sold on the open market, or ensure that the people who buy these community
resources are encouraged to attend Welsh language courses.

Jenny Randerson AM

I very much welcome the interesting ideas in this paper. I don’t agree with all of them,
but I’m always interested in new ideas, and I’m particularly interested in where it
touches on the issues associated with language transmission in the family, and how
we can encourage young people to carry on speaking Welsh, instead of deserting it
for English when it becomes trendy to do so, in their teens.

But I wanted to touch on some of the knotty issues, really. First of all, economic
development. I’m very aware of the concept and the need for making the
Welsh-speaking areas more prosperous, and that being a key issue in encouraging
people to stay there — that’s a point Dafydd’s just touched on. The problem is that in
the modern world, a prosperous area attracts incomers, and I’m interested in further
thoughts on that, because it seems to me prosperity in itself generates its own
problems from your point of view, in terms of the language.

Secondly, helping local people to buy houses, and helping them to compete in the
house-buying market: that doesn’t stop incomers coming in as well, so both of those
issues are linked, really. You’re looking at things from the point of view of keeping the
Welsh-speakers there, but you are not, at the same time, preventing people from
coming into the area, and it therefore seems to me — but I’m interested in your
thoughts on this — that would not solve the problem you’re setting out in the paper to
solve.

And finally, a very specific point: you seem to criticise the Welsh Language Board for
funding the Welsh Books Council — or perhaps it would be more accurate to say
you’re criticising the Assembly for asking the Welsh Language Board to provide
funding for the Welsh Books Council. Would you not accept that the Welsh Books
Council has a very important role to play in providing books, literature, information in the Welsh language, of various forms, so that it is — I mean, when people speak a
language they want to read it as well, and I would regard the role of the Welsh Books
Council as an essential part of maintaining the language.

Cymuned

1. “…a prosperous area attracts incomers…”

In the case of the sort of areas Cymuned has been principally concerning itself with, the arrival of this problem remains a somewhat long-term prospect. However, the point is valid enough in the abstract. The sort of problem mentioned above need not have an adverse effect on the language as long as language planning and economic development bodies work in tandem. It is unfortunate in this sense that the Welsh
Language Board is the only Assembly sponsored ‘equality body’ that does not have a place at the Objective One Monitoring Committee table.

Growing prosperity would obviously make the sort of measures we propose in paragraph 6.13 (e-register of Welsh-speakers and skills) even more pertinent — and more likely to bear fruit. Moreover, it would also reduce out-migration, and thereby increase the stability of the Welsh-speaking population within the community. Planning-policies that prioritised local needs as a basis for new housing development would have a similar effect.

The more dynamic a local economy, the more empowered a language group becomes in terms of integrating newcomers successfully. In the European context, Catalonia has been hugely successful in terms of economic development, yet is also successful in retaining Catalan as a community language. Catalan has not prevented Barcelona from projecting itself as a confident welcoming city, and a big-time player on the
international stage.

However we do need to be careful that economic development promotes
prosperity among local people. Some models of economic development have tended to exclude local people, and studies of employment patterns in Gwynedd have born this theory out with empirical evidence. Certainly we need to look at those sectors of the economy in which local people appear to be at a disadvantage and then attempt to readdress the balance so that prosperity can be shared by all.

2. “…helping local people to buy houses, and helping them to compete in the house-buying market… doesn’t stop incomers coming in as well… and therefore it seems to me… that [it] would not solve the problem you’re setting out in the paper to solve.”

It is not Cymuned policy ‘to stop incomers coming in’, rather to stabilise the sort of extreme population shifts that have affected rural Wales so that in-migration may take place in a way that is compatible with the survival of Welsh as a living community language.

Enabling local people, regardless of language, to gain access to the local property market is key if Welsh is to survive. To this end, we would ask the Culture Committee to approach the Minister for Finance, Local Government and Communities, Edwina Hart, with a view to releasing more money to local authorities so that they can help local people through the part-ownership Home Buy scheme. This is the sort of scheme that enables local people to compete in the property market.

It should be remembered that Cymuned’s proposed strategy for strengthening the position of the Welsh language in Welsh-speaking communities is multi-pronged, and that another important element in it is the sort of positive measures we propose for increasing the assimilation of incomers to the indigenous language and culture.

3. The Welsh Books Council

The comments and questions received in response to our presentations on November 7th have been of value to us in highlighting which aspects of our proposals we need to clarify further in developing our Manifesto.

Paragraph 4.8 is perhaps a case in point. It was not in any way our intention to downgrade the role and importance of the Welsh Books Council or to criticise other bodies in relation to the funding of it. The Welsh Books Council provides an important cultural service. Our point was that such a service is not by itself directly related to the process of intergenerational language transmission on a community level.

We would argue that the origins of the low level of current expenditure on the Welsh language lie in a historic view that such spending is solely a function of support for the arts and culture (perennial cinderellas throughout Britain). One of the main thrusts of both the presentations we made to the Assembly on November 7th is that regeneration of the Welsh language needs action on a much broader front than this (not least in the area of economic development), and requires increased expenditure to match.

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Cymuned, 64 Stryd Fawr, Pwllheli, Gwynedd LL53 5RR - 01758-612712 - cymuned[at]cymuned.org