13/01/2013 The Wales Report


13/01/2013

Current affairs series with Huw Edwards. Is the Welsh government's plan to buy Cardiff Airport a good use of public money? Plus, the village battling to maintain its identity.


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Tonight on The Wales Report: So the Welsh Government wants to buy an

:00:04.:00:09.

airport. But is the Carwyn Jones plan really a good use of public

:00:09.:00:12.

money? What's in a flag? A Welsh

:00:12.:00:15.

perspective on the Union flag row that's caused so much tension in

:00:15.:00:16.

Belfast. And in the ever-changing character

:00:16.:00:19.

of today's Wales we visit one village where the fight for

:00:19.:00:29.
:00:29.:00:34.

identity is at a critical stage. Welcome to the first Wales Report

:00:34.:00:38.

of 2013. Blwyddyn newydd dda. A happy new year to everyone. It's

:00:38.:00:42.

good to be back. And there's plenty for us to talk about as we consider

:00:42.:00:46.

the big issues affecting the people of Wales in this new year. Any

:00:46.:00:48.

meaningful discussion about the state of the Welsh economy must

:00:48.:00:51.

involve transport infrastructure and let's face it Wales is hardly a

:00:51.:00:56.

world leader in this regard. Airport capacity notably in the

:00:56.:01:01.

south-east region around Cardiff is a crucial element. So why is Wales

:01:01.:01:03.

not served by a successful international airport, a gateway

:01:03.:01:06.

for business and investment and leisure which delivers its own

:01:06.:01:14.

burst of economic growth? After a turbulent patch and a dramatic fall

:01:14.:01:16.

in passenger numbers, the Welsh Government has stepped in with

:01:16.:01:21.

plans to buy the airport. Or to renationalise it, depending on your

:01:21.:01:26.

perspective. The First Minister says he has the people's support.

:01:26.:01:30.

His critics say it's quite simply a waste of tax-payers' money. As

:01:30.:01:33.

Helen Callaghan reports, Carwyn Jones has a fight on his hands not

:01:33.:01:36.

least from the people running Bristol Airport with its annual

:01:36.:01:46.
:01:46.:01:54.

Airports, places of dreams, filled with the excitement and has signed

:01:54.:01:59.

bustle of travel. Arrival and departure lounges, packed with

:01:59.:02:06.

passengers to-ing and fro-ing for business and leisure. The crowning

:02:06.:02:10.

glory of any capital city. But that is not the picture in Wales.

:02:10.:02:14.

Cardiff Airport has been navigating its way through some pretty badge

:02:14.:02:19.

commercial turbulence lately. In 2012, passenger numbers hit an all-

:02:19.:02:24.

time low. Industry experts have told us that closure is the very

:02:25.:02:28.

real possibility. With that prospect in mind, the First

:02:29.:02:32.

Minister has been reaching for the Welsh Government chequebook. If

:02:32.:02:36.

that plan goes ahead, you, the taxpayer, could soon be the proud

:02:36.:02:43.

owner of Wales's only international airport. The present crisis is a

:02:43.:02:48.

far cry from the 70s and 80s, with the growth of package holidays and

:02:48.:02:56.

the expansion of the airport. Times were good. When ownership passed to

:02:56.:03:02.

a Spanish company, at the airport continued to do well. But over the

:03:02.:03:07.

last five years, there has been a dramatic decline in its fortunes.

:03:07.:03:11.

Cardiff's passenger numbers have halved from 2 million to 1.2

:03:11.:03:16.

million in 2011, with a seemingly similar decline in investment.

:03:16.:03:22.

Cardiff has not come off too well out of this low-cost revolution.

:03:22.:03:28.

The two biggest low-cost airlines in the UK are in Bristol, and

:03:28.:03:33.

Cardiff was left with another airline, BMI Baby, which never

:03:33.:03:37.

really succeeded. It is the problem with that one particular airline

:03:37.:03:40.

that led to the decline in passenger numbers at Cardiff

:03:40.:03:45.

Airport. Just across the bridge in England, there is a very different

:03:45.:03:50.

story. Many Welsh people now fly from Bristol, helping the airport

:03:50.:03:55.

see a 1% rise in passenger numbers over the past year. More than 5.7

:03:55.:04:00.

million people pass through the checking gates. Their success has

:04:00.:04:04.

not come easily. We have been working for a long period of time

:04:04.:04:09.

in attracting the leading airlines to Bristol. We have also invested

:04:09.:04:14.

about �100 million in the airport over the last decade, and that is

:04:14.:04:16.

expanding the infrastructure, improving the facilities and making

:04:16.:04:20.

it easier for people to get to Bristol Airport, which is

:04:20.:04:24.

incredibly important to us. This is a cut-throat business. Airport

:04:25.:04:29.

against airport. Bristol Airport remains determined to attract Welsh

:04:29.:04:33.

customers to its check-in desks. In a further blow to Cardiff Airport,

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the Wales Report can reveal that from March Bristol Airport will be

:04:40.:04:45.

operating a direct Greyhound bus link from Swansea, Cardiff, Newport

:04:45.:04:49.

and the airport. The Welsh Government has well and truly

:04:49.:04:56.

arrived in a commercial jungle. In 2012, Carwyn Jones told the company

:04:56.:04:59.

to invest in the airport or sell it. Now that is your money that is

:04:59.:05:07.

going to be invested, how much do you want to they? As the price

:05:07.:05:12.

varies from �50 million up to �150 million and in truth nobody knows.

:05:12.:05:16.

We do not know two things, the purchase price and what the

:05:16.:05:21.

Government intends to do with the airport if it goes ahead with the

:05:21.:05:25.

purchase. Having bought it, they will have to find someone to run it

:05:25.:05:29.

and hopefully at a profit. It is thought they will appoint a new

:05:29.:05:33.

management team but that team will be facing a massive challenge. To

:05:33.:05:37.

make the airport busy and profitable you have got to attract

:05:37.:05:41.

new airlines and they have to see it as a money-maker. You can spend

:05:41.:05:47.

as much money on it as you like. The Welsh Government can put

:05:47.:05:50.

window-boxes full of daffodils everywhere in there. It is not

:05:50.:05:55.

going to make a difference to the airlines. Yes, they would like to

:05:55.:05:58.

obviously bring these routes in and yes, the public would love it as

:05:59.:06:03.

well. But at the end of the day it is the airline that has to take the

:06:03.:06:08.

risk. At the moment, they don't think that there are enough people

:06:08.:06:12.

here in South Wales with enough disposable income to support the

:06:12.:06:18.

services. I just can't see it happening. And an airport in public

:06:18.:06:21.

ownership will have many people keeping a very close eye on the

:06:21.:06:28.

books. This is a commercially sensitive market. We would be

:06:28.:06:33.

concerned if state subsidies were provided to Cardiff Airport and of

:06:33.:06:38.

course this date Minister -- First Minister is calling for the

:06:38.:06:42.

devolution of aviation tax and the scrapping of aviation tax. But if

:06:42.:06:46.

that was to restore an efficient and open and competitive market for

:06:46.:06:50.

air travel across the UK, we would have a problem. With respect to the

:06:50.:06:55.

possible nationalisation of Cardiff Airport, we certainly do not have

:06:55.:06:59.

any issues. Of course provided that process and competition is on a

:06:59.:07:05.

very level playing field. Our concern would be if there were any

:07:05.:07:08.

state subsidies provided as part of the process. We welcome the

:07:08.:07:12.

assurances from the First Minister that Cardiff Airport will be

:07:12.:07:15.

operated on a commercial basis and there will not be state subsidies.

:07:15.:07:19.

Provided that is the case, we will be very happy. Many believe that

:07:19.:07:22.

this plan has not been fully thought through and it could cost

:07:22.:07:27.

us dear. We do not know how much they will pay for the airport. They

:07:27.:07:30.

have given us no idea what their objectives are and they have given

:07:30.:07:35.

us no idea what kind of action plan they will put in place. And now the

:07:35.:07:39.

owners of the airport have got the First Minister over a barrel. They

:07:39.:07:43.

can name their price, otherwise the First Minister is forced into a

:07:43.:07:47.

humiliating U-turn. The problem is it is not his money. It is our

:07:47.:07:50.

money as taxpayers and we have a duty to scrutinise this very

:07:50.:07:53.

carefully if and make sure that money is effectively spent to

:07:53.:07:57.

deliver something that is a benefit rather than just a black hole

:07:57.:08:01.

sucking public money down the drain. The Welsh Government believes that

:08:01.:08:07.

Wales needs a major airport close to the capital city. But are we

:08:07.:08:10.

travelling to destination unknown? And crucially how much will the

:08:10.:08:17.

ticket cost? So joining me in the studio is the

:08:17.:08:21.

Labour Assembly minister Mick Antoniw, who was on the airports

:08:21.:08:26.

committee before it was privatised. And the Conservative MP for their

:08:26.:08:31.

of Glamorgan, Alun Cairns. Let's be direct. Is there a commercial case

:08:31.:08:35.

for having this airport in the first place? Any interest and

:08:35.:08:39.

investment in the airport is welcome and it is important to the

:08:39.:08:42.

economy and the jobs at the maintenance centre next door as

:08:42.:08:46.

well. The point I want to make is that you do not have to own an

:08:46.:08:50.

airport to support an airport. It has been run down over recent years.

:08:50.:08:54.

The Welsh Assembly Government has not really supported it at all.

:08:54.:08:58.

Only last year we have public fights between the airport owners

:08:58.:09:01.

and the First Minister and just two-and-a-half years ago the

:09:01.:09:04.

National Transport plan did not have any mention other than two

:09:04.:09:08.

lines of Cardiff Airport. That is the priority of support that there

:09:08.:09:11.

was Government has given the airport over the last five years or

:09:11.:09:15.

so. We will come back to the commercial viability, a crucial

:09:15.:09:19.

question. From your point of view, is this strategy the right one

:09:19.:09:22.

given the fact that this airport has been doing quite poorly? If we

:09:23.:09:26.

think an airport is important to the future of the Welsh economy,

:09:26.:09:29.

then it is the only strategy available because no one else at

:09:29.:09:34.

the moment is going to step in. We either let it deteriorate, or we

:09:34.:09:37.

say there is an important role for the airport and we are going to

:09:37.:09:41.

build that role and make it part of the hub of the economy.

:09:41.:09:48.

viability of this airport as a unit, pie in the sky or not? Well, I

:09:48.:09:50.

think the Welsh Government is looking at it the wrong way. They

:09:50.:09:54.

think having an airport is imported to the economy, and it is. But you

:09:54.:09:58.

need to have a vibrant economy that will support an international

:09:58.:10:01.

airport and they are looking at the telescope the wrong way round, if

:10:01.:10:05.

you like. The important thing is to have a strong economy. I have

:10:05.:10:08.

spoken to a number of airlines who have said that they do not see this

:10:08.:10:14.

disposable income and the business demand locally to be strong enough

:10:14.:10:18.

to support them. But if you look up the North East, Newcastle airport,

:10:18.:10:22.

and some of the airports in Scotland, Emirates were looking at

:10:22.:10:25.

the North East and some of the airport in Glasgow and Edinburgh

:10:25.:10:28.

and they were also looking at Cardiff. You cannot subsidise an

:10:28.:10:32.

airline because that is against European rules, but you can support

:10:32.:10:37.

the marketing of the roots, both in the overseas destination and in the

:10:37.:10:42.

UK. You can make that flight more viable much more quickly. There was

:10:42.:10:46.

Government refused to do that over recent years, but the regional

:10:46.:10:49.

development agency in the North of England was happy to do that and

:10:49.:10:53.

the Scottish Government was happy to do that for Glasgow and for

:10:53.:10:57.

Edinburgh. But the Welsh Government did not do that and that is the

:10:57.:11:00.

sort of support that we need, but we can do it without owning the

:11:00.:11:05.

airport. How much do you think the airport is what? The answer is that

:11:05.:11:11.

I do not know. I have seen figures from �35 million up to �150 million.

:11:11.:11:17.

You have to look at the books and the debts and the potential

:11:17.:11:21.

partners. Bristol were talking about them investing �100 million

:11:21.:11:25.

of their own money. You have got the same in Newcastle and

:11:25.:11:28.

Manchester, where they are investing enormous amount of money

:11:28.:11:32.

in infrastructure, but they are again effectively publicly owned.

:11:32.:11:36.

On the political risk, do you think it will be impossible for Carwyn

:11:36.:11:40.

Jones to withdraw now that he has committed to buying it, no matter

:11:40.:11:47.

what the prices? I don't. If it turned round the whole situation,

:11:47.:11:50.

and the situation changed in terms of the due diligence work, I think

:11:50.:11:54.

they would have to pull up. The Assembly is only going to support

:11:54.:11:58.

the business plan that is viable. None of us are going to sit there

:11:58.:12:02.

and support something that cannot be sustained. Two issues come out

:12:02.:12:08.

of that. One, at the company that owns the airport has the First

:12:08.:12:11.

Minister over a barrel. That is because of the political priority

:12:11.:12:14.

but the First Minister has made of it. But he could turn round and say

:12:14.:12:18.

he is not prepared to pay that price, there was taxpayer will not.

:12:18.:12:21.

He has made such a political and this on this before Christmas that

:12:21.:12:24.

I think it would be impossible for him to walk away and that is a

:12:24.:12:28.

worrying factor because we will pay more money than it is worth. If it

:12:28.:12:31.

was such a good deal, there would be a host of private sector

:12:31.:12:36.

companies queuing up ready to take over the ownership. Or ready to

:12:36.:12:39.

take over the running of Cardiff Airport. And even with the massive

:12:39.:12:42.

numbers of passengers going through Bristol Airport, Bristol Airport

:12:42.:12:46.

lost money last year and that is the risk to the taxpayer. And

:12:46.:12:50.

finally, at a time when there is a desperate need for capital spent in

:12:50.:12:56.

the economy, on roads, infrastructure, on a whole range of

:12:56.:12:58.

projects, tier cannot believe the First Minister is talking about

:12:58.:13:04.

tying up tens of millions of pounds. -- I cannot believe. And he is also

:13:04.:13:08.

taking on the debt of the airport itself. Is it not important for

:13:08.:13:11.

Wales to have its own proper international airport? Well, it is,

:13:11.:13:16.

but you do not have to own an airport to support it. That is the

:13:16.:13:20.

fundamental issue. Scotland and the Regional Development Agency in

:13:20.:13:25.

Newcastle both supported their airports and do not own them.

:13:25.:13:27.

is a status purchase and not something that makes commercial

:13:27.:13:33.

sense? It is not. Ownership is not the key issue alone, the key issue

:13:33.:13:38.

is who will step in and rescue the airport. That tells you that it is

:13:38.:13:44.

a bad deal, doesn't it? It does not. There is nobody else around. If you

:13:44.:13:48.

think the airport is important, who will step in and actually do that?

:13:48.:13:51.

In exactly the same way as the local authority stepped in with

:13:51.:13:57.

Manchester and with Newcastle, and in fact the Scottish Government

:13:57.:14:00.

with the Highlands and Islands, we now think that an airport is

:14:00.:14:04.

important that we want it or we walk away. Adding the Welsh

:14:04.:14:08.

Government has taken a brave and correct decision. -- I think.

:14:08.:14:12.

doing it because no one else will do the job. That is because they

:14:12.:14:15.

have not shown to bought over the last five years or more and I have

:14:15.:14:20.

given examples in relation to that. -- not shown support. There is

:14:20.:14:23.

interest and I think people will be surprised when the announcements

:14:23.:14:28.

are made with regard to this plan. We will have you back to talk about

:14:28.:14:37.

What's in a flag? In this case, the Union flag - or Union Jack, take

:14:37.:14:40.

your pick. It's a question that's featured prominently in news

:14:40.:14:43.

headlines in recent weeks given the violence on the streets of Belfast.

:14:43.:14:47.

The City Council voted not to fly the flag every day, and the

:14:47.:14:50.

decision led to some of the worst violence since the Good Friday

:14:50.:14:53.

Agreement was signed nearly 15 years ago. And plenty of questions

:14:54.:14:57.

have been asked about the way the decision was handled. My next guest

:14:57.:15:00.

knows more than most about the situation in today's Northern

:15:00.:15:03.

Ireland, having served as Secretary of State. He's Labour's Peter Hain,

:15:03.:15:13.
:15:13.:15:14.

the MP for Neath. What has gone wrong? A number of things. I

:15:14.:15:19.

believe the main one is that working-class loyalists feel they

:15:19.:15:23.

have not been stakeholders for changed since we negotiated the

:15:23.:15:28.

historic solution in 2007. Young people but at the forefront of

:15:28.:15:33.

these problems are without jobs, youth unemployment is horrific in

:15:33.:15:36.

Northern Ireland. Particularly loyalist youngsters feel they don't

:15:36.:15:42.

have a real future. They think that republicans are getting everything.

:15:42.:15:47.

That is a misnomer. Some of the recent trouble around the parading

:15:47.:15:52.

season was young Republicans. You have youngsters without jobs and

:15:52.:15:56.

trading, in the NEETs category, on both sides of the divide, feeling

:15:56.:16:00.

this is not best seen any more. They can't get jobs, they don't

:16:00.:16:04.

have a stake so they are causing trouble. I think there is an

:16:04.:16:09.

identity she was well. Was it right to make the decision in the first

:16:10.:16:13.

place? It was made because a compromise was being sought, but

:16:13.:16:19.

with hindsight, were they right? is very difficult for me as a

:16:20.:16:24.

former Secretary of State to say what was right or wrong. This is a

:16:24.:16:28.

devolved legislature, it is a devolved Northern Ireland. What

:16:28.:16:33.

would you have done if you were in office? This is a divided city

:16:33.:16:37.

between Protestants and Catholics still, between Unionists and

:16:37.:16:42.

nationalists, Republicans. The decision they took was hard argued.

:16:42.:16:46.

The Alliance Party, which has traditionally opted a middle way,

:16:46.:16:50.

was the one which came up with only flying the flag on certain

:16:50.:16:55.

designated days. It seemed a reasonable compromise. In fact, it

:16:55.:16:59.

has inflamed the situation, but for reasons which are not only, in my

:16:59.:17:04.

view, to do with the Union Jack, the British flag, above Belfast

:17:04.:17:09.

City Hall, but with the wider alienation, especially of your

:17:09.:17:13.

loyalists, from what they see as a developing society around them.

:17:13.:17:17.

Billions of pounds of public money has been invested in industry in

:17:17.:17:21.

the province, partly to create jobs, despite the fact that youth

:17:21.:17:25.

unemployment is very high. People in other parts of the UK have

:17:25.:17:29.

little patience with what they see happening in Belfast, they think

:17:29.:17:34.

people are not responding to the kind of support they have had. Do

:17:34.:17:39.

you lack sympathy? It is true that Northern Ireland has had more

:17:39.:17:43.

subsidy if in its public services, its state and the public sector

:17:43.:17:49.

generally than any other part of the UK, Wales included. In other

:17:49.:17:53.

respects they are privileged, they still don't pay water charges. I

:17:53.:17:57.

tried to introduce the last Secretary of State, which caused a

:17:57.:18:04.

terrific rumpus. -- I tried to introduce them as Secretary of

:18:04.:18:07.

State. But the society is in transition from centuries of

:18:07.:18:13.

conflict. And a bitter, violent and terrorist conflict which needs

:18:13.:18:17.

support to get it to a place where it needs to be. Do you see any

:18:17.:18:22.

parallels at all, not the violence, thankfully, but any other parallels

:18:22.:18:27.

throughout the rest of the devolved UK, people taking more

:18:27.:18:29.

responsibility for their own affairs? You were a very big,

:18:29.:18:34.

strong element in the campaign to get devolution to Wales. That

:18:34.:18:38.

identity struggle, do you see it playing out elsewhere? I think

:18:38.:18:43.

there is an issue with English identity. I have always thought the

:18:43.:18:46.

asymmetric devolution settlement was not sustainable, power needed

:18:46.:18:50.

to be divorced in England and not just London, to the rest of the

:18:50.:18:55.

English regions, cities and so on. In Northern Ireland, I think there

:18:55.:19:00.

is a different issue which could be in play under this austerity, if in

:19:00.:19:04.

a wider sense, across Britain. When people don't feel they have a stake

:19:04.:19:09.

in society, identity becomes even more important. For example, you

:19:09.:19:13.

saw the rise of the BNP, when people did not feel like they were

:19:13.:19:17.

getting housing opportunities, they worried about immigration and job

:19:17.:19:21.

security, including under the Labour government. The BNP came to

:19:21.:19:27.

the fore. UKIP is coming to the fore with the European question and

:19:27.:19:31.

a lot of other associated issues, it is not just a one-issue party.

:19:31.:19:35.

Identity becomes more important in a situation where people feel

:19:35.:19:38.

insecure and under siege. In Northern Ireland there is a

:19:38.:19:42.

particular issue with the loyalist community, I don't think the

:19:42.:19:46.

Government is doing enough to engage with them. I took risky

:19:46.:19:49.

decisions to engage with people on the fringes, and some almost in

:19:50.:19:53.

uniform, as it were, in paramilitary activity, to engage

:19:53.:19:58.

with them. And it paid off. The wider question of identity comes to

:19:58.:20:01.

the fore when people don't have a wider stake in the normal bread-

:20:01.:20:07.

and-butter jobs, housing, education, opportunities that are the stuff of

:20:07.:20:12.

daily life. Peter, thank you very much. Peter Hain.

:20:12.:20:14.

That notion of identity, especially cultural identity, has been

:20:14.:20:17.

examined in detail since the latest census figures for Wales were

:20:17.:20:21.

published. They are a gold mine of information, telling us how Wales

:20:21.:20:24.

has changed over the past decade - with religion, language and

:20:24.:20:26.

nationality featuring very prominently. The number of people

:20:26.:20:30.

able to speak Welsh has fallen from 20.5% to 19%, with the sharpest

:20:30.:20:32.

decline recorded in the heartlands of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

:20:32.:20:36.

David Williams has been to one of the oldest villages in Wales,

:20:36.:20:39.

Brechfa - deep in the countryside some 12 miles from Carmarthen -

:20:39.:20:43.

where he came face to face with the reality of what's happening. And he

:20:43.:20:46.

discovered that the future of the language might well depend on some

:20:46.:20:56.
:20:56.:21:04.

of the incomers, and those who The reality of living in today's

:21:04.:21:14.
:21:14.:21:15.

Wales is to be found in places like this. This is Brechfa. Population,

:21:15.:21:19.

300. And something of a microcosm of what it is to try and preserve

:21:19.:21:25.

the essence of a community at a time of great change. You don't

:21:25.:21:29.

just arrive in Brechfa, you have to make an effort to get here. The

:21:29.:21:34.

villagers said to be a settlement dating back in the coffee barbie to

:21:34.:21:40.

the 6th century. One steeped in the Welsh language, it is now

:21:40.:21:46.

linguistically finely balanced - half Welsh, half-English. But

:21:46.:21:50.

united in a common aim - preserving the community. Invariably,

:21:50.:21:54.

something gets lost in translation when the English and Welsh

:21:54.:21:58.

languages are interpreted or misinterpreted. It can lead to

:21:58.:22:03.

confusion and misunderstanding. Take the notice on this date. In

:22:03.:22:08.

Wells, it suggests quite correctly that this school is no longer

:22:08.:22:12.

operational. In English, the suggestion is that the village of

:22:12.:22:16.

Brechfa itself is no longer operational, which is simply not

:22:16.:22:21.

true. And they hope is that this little school will soon have a new

:22:21.:22:31.
:22:31.:22:32.

role and will help to reinvigorate I was brought up in a village much

:22:32.:22:37.

like this, a Welsh speaker in a community where there were only two

:22:37.:22:41.

pupils from an English background at the school at which my father

:22:41.:22:47.

was the headmaster. How things have changed. In Brechfa, the linguistic

:22:47.:22:51.

population shift in the last 50 years has been, as it has in the

:22:51.:22:57.

village of my childhood, dramatic. Not only has Welsh as the first

:22:57.:23:02.

language taken a huge hit in this village, falling pupil numbers has

:23:02.:23:06.

forced the authority to move the children of Brechfa six miles down

:23:06.:23:10.

the roads are to another school. But the campaign to keep the

:23:10.:23:14.

building open and preserve it as both an educational and business

:23:14.:23:18.

centre of village life has only just begun.

:23:18.:23:22.

This man, and in, from Hertfordshire, walked around the

:23:22.:23:27.

school all day in his wellingtons to raise money for a project aimed

:23:27.:23:32.

at saving the building. Now considered a vital part of his

:23:32.:23:39.

local community. We were very excited about helping the school.

:23:39.:23:42.

The whole idea of a little girl living in a village and going to

:23:42.:23:45.

the village school and having friends in the village was very

:23:45.:23:51.

meaningful, so it was a great blow to our son lots of other families.

:23:51.:24:01.

-- great blow to us and lots of These young women may hold the key

:24:01.:24:10.

to the success of the project. just remember my childhood, and it

:24:10.:24:15.

was great growing up in Brechfa, around the forest, mountain biking

:24:15.:24:18.

in the river. I just think it would be nice to promote this area and

:24:18.:24:25.

make people realise how great it is and how good it can be. Both Welsh-

:24:25.:24:30.

speaking, both brought up in Brechfa, they went to this school.

:24:30.:24:34.

Both went off to university and travelled the world but, unusually,

:24:34.:24:40.

both have returned home. And both are determined to play their part

:24:40.:24:43.

and re-energised their community. We just think it is really

:24:43.:24:47.

important to keep the Welsh language alive. It is part of our

:24:47.:24:52.

heritage and culture, and to see it disappear would be a shame. They

:24:52.:24:56.

want to set up a food store for a yet to be established mountain-

:24:56.:25:06.
:25:06.:25:10.

And this is the woman who was the driving force behind the Brechfa

:25:10.:25:15.

project. Mary Mitchell, a retired schoolteacher, is a self-employed

:25:15.:25:20.

milk recorder, collecting samples from local farms for analysis in

:25:20.:25:24.

England. She was brought up in Carmarthenshire, moved away but

:25:24.:25:30.

returned with her family to live in Brechfa. It is not just about the

:25:30.:25:35.

Welsh language, it is about the age of the people, because the

:25:35.:25:39.

demographic has changed here and what we are getting is a lot more

:25:39.:25:42.

retired people moving in here. Because the housing is not

:25:42.:25:47.

affordable for younger families. What some people here will tell you

:25:47.:25:51.

privately, though not publicly, is that a great deal of the drive

:25:51.:25:56.

which it has sustained this village comes from people who have either

:25:56.:26:02.

moved away and come back off from people who have simply moved into

:26:02.:26:09.

the area. The incomers and those returning are powerful force for

:26:09.:26:14.

the rejuvenation of places like Brechfa. It may be that for some

:26:14.:26:18.

this is an uncomfortable truth, but one that needs to be faced not only

:26:18.:26:24.

in Brechfa but in Wales as a hole in what is a critical time for both

:26:24.:26:29.

the Welsh language and the survival of the communities which help to

:26:29.:26:38.

sustain the language. But does it really matter that we

:26:38.:26:43.

all speak the language of heaven? Is it really important to our

:26:43.:26:48.

collective well-being that we all speak Welsh? Or is it more

:26:48.:26:53.

important in a place like this to ensure a vibrant community which

:26:53.:27:03.

embraces both languages? The inevitable question that divides us

:27:03.:27:08.

as a nation and causes individuals like me continual angst and

:27:08.:27:14.

consternation has risen its head again. There was never an easy or

:27:14.:27:18.

satisfactory answer to that conundrum, and the complexities

:27:18.:27:22.

attached to the issue of the language seemed magnified in places

:27:22.:27:28.

like this. Bit by bit, the villagers of Brechfa have seen not

:27:28.:27:32.

only the Welsh language disappear, but also those elements which go to

:27:32.:27:36.

the core of community life here. The chapel, the Pope and, most

:27:36.:27:42.

recently, the calf -- the chapel, the Pope, and, most recently, the

:27:42.:27:46.

school have all gone. Only the local shop has been saved as a

:27:46.:27:54.

community run venture. Good morning, how are you? Have you

:27:54.:28:00.

any sandwiches? Yes, we do, in the chiller cabinet. The little shop is

:28:00.:28:05.

at the heart of this community, a place enjoyed by everyone, natives

:28:05.:28:11.

and incomers alike. Bill Bradley, one of the volunteer directors,

:28:11.:28:16.

retired here from Middlesex. Well, I love it here. A lot of people

:28:16.:28:21.

said to me, oh, don't live in Wales, but I must say I really love living

:28:21.:28:28.

here. What do they mean, don't live in Wales? They said we wouldn't be

:28:28.:28:31.

welcome and they all speak Welsh and we wouldn't fit in, but we have

:28:31.:28:36.

fitted in very well. We have been welcomed by everybody. And they do

:28:36.:28:41.

speak Welsh? They do. Sometimes I stand here in the shop and I don't

:28:41.:28:48.

understand a word they are saying. Coup attempts at a community buy-

:28:48.:28:55.

out of the local pub failed, so now the focus of potential is on the

:28:55.:28:58.

local school's the focus of attention is on the local school,

:28:58.:29:04.

close last year but still seen as the potential new sense of

:29:04.:29:07.

community life. The local authority is keeping the door open - for the

:29:07.:29:12.

time being, at least. We have to produce an outline proposal and a

:29:12.:29:16.

five-year business plan with five- year cash forecasts by March.

:29:16.:29:21.

Hopefully from September if it is accepted, we can have it to rent

:29:21.:29:27.

for 12 to 18 months, and then the option to buy. It is absolutely

:29:27.:29:32.

doable. The very future of the Welsh language, not to say the

:29:32.:29:37.

future of communities like this which helped to foster it, depend

:29:37.:29:42.

on the goodwill of all people in places like this. If there are no

:29:42.:29:47.

communities, then there is nothing left to debate. And that would be a

:29:47.:29:54.

David Williams reporting. That's it for tonight's programme. Next week

:29:54.:29:58.

Tim Rogers will be assessing a big week for the NHS in Wales - and

:29:58.:30:02.

that's always a big talking point. So get in touch and send us your

:30:02.:30:04.

In the first of a new series of the Wales Report - is the Welsh government's plan to buy Cardiff Airport a good use of public money? And the village battling to maintain its identity in an ever changing Wales.


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