Proposals to Re-structure the Urdd's Local Provision
28 April 2020
The Cabinet Member for Welsh Language has written a letter about the proposals to re-structure the Urdd's local provision.
I write to respond to the Urdd's proposals to restructure the department which is responsible for the Urdd's work within its regions, to provide Powys County Council's comments on the proposals which will have a direct impact on the Urdd's provision within the Montgomeryshire and the Brecon and Radnorshire Regions.
The Urdd is a very important organisation for us here in Powys. Usually at this time of year, the county is a hive of activity preparing for the Local and County Eisteddfods, from Llanfyllin to Ystradgynlais, with members competing in stage, dance, arts and crafts and several other competitions to reach the National Eisteddfod held during Whitsun week.
The National Urdd Eisteddfod held in the Brecon and Radnorshire area in 2018 led to a major increase in Urdd activity in the area. The Eisteddfod, along with the appointment of a full time Development Officer for South Powys, led to a 50% increase in Urdd membership (from 795 to 1198 members) and three times as many children competing in sports competitions, rising from 368 in 2015/16 to 1121 in 2018/19. This clearly demonstrates the value and importance of the Urdd's presence locally. Having a Development Officer exclusively responsible for the area enabled having contact with 6 out of 7 secondary schools in the area, and with each of the primary schools. There are also 2098 members in the Montgomeryshire area, and officers have worked with 43 primary and 6 secondary schools.
There are also plans to bring the Urdd National Eisteddfod back to Montgomeryshire within the next few years, and many, many activities expected as we prepare for its visit, and we will have much additional interest in the Urdd's activities as a result.
We must also remember that the Urdd's activities go far beyond just the Eisteddfod, with sports competitions, Urdd clubs and groups in schools and within the community, visits to the Urdd camps, and the Urdd's international trips to places such as Disneyland Paris. The Council has contributed generously towards these activities over the years, and has worked with the Urdd to support these important activities.
It is therefore of great concern to us that the Urdd intend to close their Newtown office at such a critical time, which will mean that there is no longer an office in mid Wales - nothing between Denbigh and Gwent, nor between Glan-llyn and Llangrannog. This is a vast area of Wales, and an area which needs the support of organisations such as the Urdd to ensure that Welsh-medium activities take place.
Staff covering Powys will be travelling either from Denbigh to support activities in Montgomeryshire, or from the Neath Port Talbot area to cover activities as far north as Rhayader and Knighton, meaning they will be in their cars travelling along the county's roads rather than supporting these important activities, and having contact with the county's young people.
I am very concerned that it will have a detrimental impact on the Urdd's ability to maintain services and contact with members in Powys, and it will be very difficult for them to maintain the level of service that their members in Powys deserve. The document refers to ensuring a consistent provision throughout Wales, but with such a large area to support, I can't see how the Urdd will be able to maintain the same level of service as will be provided in other parts of Wales without any presence in mid Wales.
I am concerned that this could have an impact on the activities and support for the Urdd in Powys, at a time when we will need to inspire our community to support the work involved with having the Urdd National Eisteddfod in the area in the near future.
A question on this issue was recently raised with me, as Portfolio Holder for the Welsh Language, by a member of Powys County Council, who viewed this as a step backwards for the Urdd in Powys, and that it would not be a practical model of delivery for the young people of Powys. I agree that this is of great concern, and call on the Urdd to review the proposal, to ensure a fair and equitable provision is available in mis Wales, and I urge you to discuss with us to consider how to maintain this important provision here in Powys.
Cllr Myfanwy Alexander
Portfolio Holder responsible for Adult Social Care and Welsh Language