Like many of my peers I left Anglesey to attend University and picked up two degrees including a Masters in Japanese, which I now speak fluently. I went on to work abroad for a long time: I spent six years working in Tokyo, Japan, and a further six years in Frankfurt, Germany, where I was appointed to a very senior European marketing position for one of the World’s largest consumer electronics firms. I also however have experience of business on a smaller scale: three years ago, just before the credit crunch, I decided to set up my own small consultancy firm and therefore weathered the storm of the recession as a small businessman and learned intimately the problems and pressures facing small businesses all over the UK but particularly here in Anglesey. I currently live in Rhostrehwfa with my long-term girlfriend.
As the Welsh Conservative candidate, in addition to being guided by the People's Manifesto, I will be focussing on the following key points:
- Championing a private sector led economic recovery on Anglesey. Over a relatively short period of time Ynys Môn has seen the closure of several of its largest firms and the loss of over 2,100 private-sector jobs, according to a study by the University of Wales. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the biggest job-creators in our economy, yet Ieuan Wyn Jones’s Economic Renewal Programme has slashed the amount of support available to these smaller firms. I will champion and support our SMEs to set-up and expand by recognising the value of these embryonic companies and their potential to grow and create employment.
- Support a smarter ‘Energy Island’ concept. I will provide full and unequivocal support for the development of Wylfa B. However for the ‘Energy Island’ concept to fully benefit Anglesey we need to be more than just a ‘site’ for nuclear reactors and water turbines. As such I will champion the creation of an Energy Technology Park on the Island and ensure that the skilled workforce needed for the power station and its construction are sourced locally.
- Support the recovery of Anglesey County Council. The political problems at Anglesey County Council have created an environment of instability and indecision which is not conducive for business investment or development – particularly due to the absence of a clear planning policy framework.
- Champion Agriculture and Tourism on Ynys Môn. Between 1997 and 2007, the economic contribution of agriculture to the North Wales economy fell by 67 percent, compared to an overall UK decline of just 7 percent. Equally, in terms of tourism, Anglesey does not suffer from a dearth of places to visit, it suffers from a lack of imagination in marketing itself. I will champion and support both agriculture and tourism on Ynys Môn.
- Defend Anglesey from disproportionate cuts. I recognise the need for the government to reduce the structural deficit, however I will defend Anglesey from any disproportionate or unfair cuts to policing, health, education and other frontline public services.
- To be a dedicated AM for Ynys Môn. It is clear that the Ieuan Wyn Jones’s Leadership of Plaid Cymru and ministerial duties are compromising his ability to give Anglesey residents a much needed and dedicated voice in Cardiff Bay. I pledge to be an excellent and dedicated AM for Ynys Môn.
As for this blog I will continue to write about matters which effect both Ynys Môn and Wales as a whole. Like you I want to see what's best for this Island.
Paul Williams / "The Druid"
The original 'About' section
Every Briton knows of the legend that King Arthur will one day return to Britain's aid when he's most needed.
What is not so widely known is that, with his dying breath, the Last of the Druids made a similar oath to the people of Mona Insulis (or 'Anglesey' as the island is now known in English, and 'Ynys Môn' in Welsh)...
The time was 60AD and the Roman legions of Caius Suetonius Paulinus, destroyer of Boudica, were massed on the banks of the straights separating the Island from the mainland. On the opposite bank, the Roman historian Tacitus describes the scene:
By the shore stood an opposing battle-line, thick with men and weapons, woman running between them, like the Furies in their funereal clothes, their hair flowing, carrying torches; and Druids among them, pouring out frightful curses with their hands raised high to the heavens, our soldiers being so scared by the unfamiliar sight that their limbs were paralysed, and they stood motionless and exposed to be wounded.
Under protection of the fire of Ballistae - catapults capable of throwing flaming missiles up to 2000 feet - the Romans crossed the Menai Straights in flat bottomed boats and joined battle with the Celts on the other side:
It is said that they spared none they met on that bloody field of battle. Men, women and children were slaughtered, butchered by an army spurred on by its earlier shame. Many of the Druids and their followers were thrown into their sacred groves of oak and then burned alive. There were, it is said, few prisoners taken. How long the battle lasted is not known. What is, however, is the fact that the Romans showed no quarter in the fight for Mona Insulis.
Today, the bloody shore runs from Moel-y-Don to the sou'west of Llanfairpwll to Tal-y-Foel opposite Caernarfon. The shore still bears testimony to the carnage of that day's events. Place names such as Bryn-y-Beddau, (the Hill of Graves), still appear on modern maps of the island. Here the islanders who survived after Paullinus had left to fight Boudicca buried their dead.
Above the village of Llanidan are two fields still known as The Field of the Long Battle and the Field of Bitter Lamentation. There is also Plas Goch, (the Red Place); its name giving a hint to the story behind it."
And as the Roman Legionnaires tossed the wounded bodies of the defeated Druids into the blazing pyres and burnt these ancient priests alive, the Last of the Druids turned his eyes skywards and vowed to his Gods through the pain that, at the time in the future when the Island was most in danger, he would return.
That time is now.
Things have changed somewhat over the almost two thousand years which separates that fateful day from the Anglesey of today. Danger to Mona Insulis no longer comes from foreign invaders - but from economic malaise and depopulation. Observe the sad current state of the island:
- Anglesey is the poorest sub-region in the United Kingdom with the lowest Gross Value Added (GVA) per head in the United Kingdom. At £10,998 per head, Anglesey’s GVA is just 55.1 per cent of the UK’s average.
- Anglesey is poorer than some of the poorest parts of rural Poland according to the 2009 OECD Factbook.
- Data for full-time employees show that average earnings in Anglesey were approx. £396 per week in 2007, compared with £415 per week in Wales and £456 per week in the UK. It should be noted that gross average earnings on the Island were distorted by wages paid to employees at Wylfa and Anglesey Aluminium, which are substantially higher than other wages in the area.
- However we don't have to worry about Anglesey Aluminium distorting average earnings on the Island anymore because it was forced to close in 2009 wiping out at least 450 direct jobs and an estimated further 240 jobs through indirect and induced effects.
- In addition Anglesey has also lost Octel in Amlwch, Eaton Electric in Holyhead (240 jobs), Peboc in Llangefni (100 jobs), Menai Electrical in Gaerwen (50 jobs), Readileads (35 jobs) and Vion/Welsh Country Foods has restructured in Llangefni and Gaerwen (191 jobs). These are on top of the countless other jobs lost at small businesses throughout the Island which aren’t reported in the local press.
- In fact, according to research by the University of Wales, since 2001 there has been a decrease of 2,100 jobs in private sector employment on Anglesey and the proportion of those employed in the private sector has decreased from 74 per cent to 67 per cent.
- Anglesey is currently suffering from an employment ‘triple whammy’, with the lowest level of employment coupled with the highest rates of job-seekers claimants and economic inactivity in North Wales (see box below).
- Remarkably farming in North Wales has fared even worse than business. During the period 1997 to 2007, the economic contribution of agriculture to the North Wales and Anglesey economy fell by a staggering 67 per cent compared to an overall UK decline of just 7 per cent.7
- On top of all this, Anglesey County Council is poorly managed, riven with infighting, and planning on raising Council Tax by 15% over three years.
|click to enlarge|
Has there ever been a time since the mass slaughter on Traeth Coch in 60AD when Anglesey has been in such peril? The time has come for the Druid to return.
As Blogging seems to be the modern phenomenon which most closely corresponds to "pouring out frightful curses with hands raised high to the heavens", the Druid intends to lead his resistance through this blog.