Part of Wales plans to make St David’s Day a public holiday


A Welsh council is considering making St David’s Day a public holiday for its workers.

Gwynedd Council Cabinet will meet on Tuesday January 18 to discuss plans to make March 1 a public holiday for council workers.

The meeting comes after the UK government refused to delegate power to allow Wales to create its own holidays, like in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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Saint Andrew’s Day is a public holiday in Scotland and Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Northern Ireland.

In December, the UK government rejected calls for a St David’s Day holiday after claiming too many people were crossing the Welsh and English border to make the idea workable.

The paper before Gwynedd Council next week suggests that ‘St David’s Day 2022 is designated as an additional public holiday for council staff working on the terms and conditions of employment of local government employees, to celebrate the feast of our patron saint to be funded in accordance with paragraph 2.10 of report b”.

It also suggests that the council ‘allow officers to investigate possible options to make such an arrangement permanent and to that end further discussions with recognized trade unions and continuing to press for the Westminster government to support devolution to government Welsh, allowing them to establish public holidays for Wales”.

The report notes that this “would cost the Council approximately £200,000 each year (approximately £100,000 to run the last option which is a half-day holiday and re-designate the other half-day holiday currently allowed)”.

The report indicates that these costs are mainly intended to cover the need to employ part-time staff to ensure continuity of service in the absence of full-time staff.

In October last year Gwynedd Council sent a letter to ministers calling for an end to the ’embarrassing’ anomaly of the Scottish and Northern Irish governments being able to designate their national days when no such power is currently devolved to Cardiff Bay.

But in a letter, MP Paul Scully, the minister for small businesses, rejected the idea of ​​an additional public holiday for Wales.

Writing in response to the council’s request, Mr Scully noted: ‘While we appreciate that the people of Wales want to celebrate their patron saint, more people work across the Anglo-Welsh border than across the Anglo-Scottish border.

“This tighter degree of integration could lead to greater business disruption. If we had separate public holidays in England and Wales, the impact on employees and businesses is difficult to predict.

In the proposal presented to Gwynedd Council next week, this response is described as “hugely disappointing”.

Saint Andrew’s Day is a public holiday in Scotland and Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Northern Ireland.

One option being considered under the plans is to grant additional leave to staff in 2022 by modifying their annual leave entitlement.

The council said unions had been consulted on staffing proposals, but council-employed teachers would not be able to take extra holidays only through local agreement.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales on Tuesday January 18 about the proposals, Dafydd Meurig, Deputy Leader of Gwynedd Council, said: ‘It’s partly symbolic but also partly to celebrate our patron saint, our Welsh and our Nationality.

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“The UK seems pretty liberal with its Jubilee parties, handing them out like candy, but for some reason we’re not allowed to celebrate our own identity.”

Discussing how he thinks the day should be celebrated in Wales, he said the country should make more use of the occasion.

“Why should we just have it as a day, why shouldn’t we have a week of celebrations. At Christmas we don’t have Christmas concerts on the day we do, we have them the week before holidays, so I think we should have a bigger party, maybe a weekend with a day off either on a Friday or a Monday.

“I think we need to do more and this is our opportunity in Gwynedd to try it at least this year.”

Gwynedd is the first council in Wales to consider making St David’s Day a public holiday.

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