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Sian Gwenllian's Blog

Sian Gwenllian is Y Felinheli's Councillor on Gwynedd Council. She was elected in May 2008 as a Plaid Cymru member. She is also the Arfon Plaid Cymru candidate for the Welsh Election 2016. 

 

Felin In The News 2011 - click here

Councillor in the Spotlight- Sian Gwenllian's Blog 2009 - Click here


Councillor Sian Gwenllian's Annual Report (2013/14) - Click here

See the full news article here

Resignation of SG from CCG

In September 2014, the Board of Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd decided to advertise two of its most senior posts without making the ability to speak Welsh essential or without making learning Welsh essential for any successful applicant.

This matter was discussed at the second meeting I attended as a newly appointed Board member.

I argued and voted against this decision but when the Board voted to support this move, I felt that I had no choice but to resign from the Board as a matter of principle. After thinking very carefully about the matter, a week or so later, I tendered my resignation to the Chairman of the Board and it was accepted at the next meeting.

I think that this decision cannot be seen as an ‘exception’ given the high status of the jobs involved and I would question the legality of this major breach of the organisation’s Welsh Language policy. I understand that the matter is being investigated by the Welsh Language Commissioner. 

My reasons for resigning in opposition of the decision are as follows:

1) The appointment of two non-Welsh speaking members of staff at the highest level will change the whole language ethos of CCG, a large local employer.  The language of day to day communication in the senior management team will be through the medium of English. This will have a ripple effect through the whole of the organisation and it will become increasingly difficult to maintain Welsh as the language of internal communication. We will see a gradual Anglicisation of the whole organisation in an area where the Welsh language is at its strongest but is also under threat. Maintaining and developing the strongest possible commitment to the Welsh language by public sector organisations is paramount to the survival of the Welsh language. It helps create a confident bilingual local workforce, serving a confident bilingual community.

2) If lack of suitable applicants and the inability to recruit is given as the ‘reason’  for this change in policy, then those problems need to be addressed in another way; in a way which does not endanger the whole Welsh language ethos of the organisation. The new senior management structure has been designed with the help of a company from Manchester that may not understand the local culture.  In NW Wales it is important to have rigorous staff development, nurturing and succession policies in place so that local talent can be enhanced and developed.

3) Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd is the body now responsible for Gwynedd Council’s old housing stock, some 6,300 homes. I applaud Gwynedd Council’s vigorous language policies and was confident that CCG would adhere to those hard-fought for policies. My late father was a senior officer at the old Dwyfor District Council and was one of the architects of Gwynedd’s pioneering language policy. It saddens me greatly that an organisation that was entrusted with the housing stock of Gwynedd Council should now turn its back on that innovative language policy.

4) The vast majority of CCG members of staff are bilingual. Saying that the ability to speak Welsh is not essential for such senior posts will have a negative effect on the morale of the whole work-force, giving out negative messages to those who would aspire to move on with their careers within CCG.

Cllr. Siân Gwenllian

Siân Gwenllian represents the village of Y Felinheli in Arfon on Gwynedd Council. She was Deputy Leader of Gwynedd Council until May 2014 and she was also the Cabinet Member for Education and the Lead Member for Children and Young People. Recently she was chosen as the Plaid Cymru candidate for the Arfon constituency for the Welsh Election 2016. Siân joined the Council, representing the Felinheli ward (where she was brought up) in 2008. In 2010 she was appointed Finance Portfolio Leader.  She has been a community councillor and school governor for over 20 years and is actively involved in several local initiatives. 

For 35 years she has followed a career in journalism. She started her career with the BBC in 1980 after completing a post-graduate diploma in journalism at Cardiff University.  She has worked for the current affairs programme Y Byd ar Bedwar, Golwg, as a Press Officer and is now a self-employed journalist/Public Relations consultant.

She was the Deputy President for Aberystwyth Guild of Students during 1977-78 after graduating in Geography.  She was a member of the National Union of Students (Wales) Executive Committee.  Over the years Siân has campaigned for the Welsh language, women's rights, independence for Wales and fairness and social justice.  She has raised 4 children on her own after her husband died of cancer 15 years ago. - click here

Results of Y Felinheli Housing Needs Survey 2014 - Click here

What's happening in Scotland is important to Wales

Sian Gwenllian, Plaid Cymru Assembly Candidate for Arfon in the 2016 election, has just returned from a short trip to Scotland. She is convinced that there will be fundamental changes not only in Scotland but in Wales and England in the coming years. - click here

Branch supports Siân Gwenllian’s campaign

Plaid Cymru Y Felinheli has voted unanimously in favour of supporting Cllr Siân Gwenllian as she seeks nomination as candidate for the Arfon seat at the Welsh Government Elections in 2016 - click here

Leaflet for Local Election May 2012

blog

Dear electors,

Make sure that Arfon returns Hywel as our MP by voting tomorrow between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. at the School or Church Hall. Let me know if you would like a lift.

For more information Click here.

It's great to know that so may people appreciate community life in their villages: I am also one of those people. I know that the rural communities are vitally important to the unique character of Gwynedd and are vital to the survival of the Welsh language – in Gwynedd and in Wales as whole. I also know that many communities are under threat as young people leave the rural areas in search of better job prospects. I think that we have to change in the face of this sad reality. I know that change can be daunting and frightening, but I also know that not changing, that is staying the same, is not the answer if we are to maintain and strengthen our rural communities.
“We have to change in order to stay the same” is a saying that I find particularly appropriate.
I think that if we keep all the schools open and do nothing, apart from some minor tweeking here and there, that we are not facing up to the situation in a responsible way. Unless we do something positive, the schools will close themselves because parents will move their children to schools that have a more secure future in terms of pupil numbers. This happened in Llawr y Betws near Bala. The school numbers had dwindled and in September 2008, the parents moved the children to other schools in the area. Is it fair to children, parents and teachers to just let schools close of their own accord? Surely it is better to plan, to create new systems and a more secure future? My worry is that if we do nothing that there will be a slow drift of children to Tywyn and there will be nothing left in the rural area.
This is why I shall be supporting the restructuring of schools in the Dysynni/Tywyn area. I think that there is a great opportunity here to bring four schools together in a new area school. The new school will be “small” by most standards (in England a school is “small” if it has less than 90 pupils; in Northern Ireland the figure is 105). The new school facilities will be a great boost to the area. Parents can feel secure about their children’s education and the rural communities it will serve can benefit from an investment of confidence in the area from the Council. If we didn’t care about the area, we’d just leave it alone and not worry about the consequences.
The governors at the new school will be the ones to decide how to involve the surrounding communities in school life. I hope that many of those who have shown a genuine concern about the future of their communities will take an active part in the decisions that will need to be taken about the running of the new school. Villagers say that the children of Llwyngwril play an active part in the life of the Church in the village. There is no reason why this cannot continue. The new school can still conduct activities in the Church – if that is the wish of the new governors. And the children will be in the village after 3.30 o’clock each day – plenty of time to take part in all the other activities that the community can organize and plan. I heard a resident from Abergynolwyn talking on the radio about all the activities that happen in that village: most of them happening after school hours and not involving the school in a formal way.
Community life is a plethora of different activities. I think it is misinformed to think that closing a school kills a community. “ Cau ysgol = lladd cymuned” is a slogan we often hear in this context. But there is much more to community life than the school – much of it happening at the weekend and evenings and centred around the pub, community centre, chapel, church or village hall. A school is a structure of bricks and mortar where children are taught from 9 to 3. Obviously, in some communities this structure is also the hub of community life and the building plays a vital part in community life. In these cases, the Council can work with the communities so that they can take over the facilities should the schooling element be moved elsewhere. But in many communities this is not the case. Community life continues beyond the school building and beyond the school gates. And dare I say it, community life is as good as the community itself wishes it to be. Is it fair to forecast doom and gloom all the time? Shouldn’t we as leaders in our community work proactively and positively to encourage new community activities if we feel strongly about their future?
As for the point about larger schools being detrimental to the Welsh language, I don’t think that evidence in other parts of the county supports this. Gwynedd Council is proud of its robust language policy. This is the driving force: the size of the school is irrelevant.
I agree that protecting the environment is very important. By closing 5 buildings, the energy saved by not running and maintaining those buildings will far out-weigh the additional costs of transporting to school. The new school will comply with new “greener” ways of building – the new school at Cae Top in Bangor is a shining example of this.
I sympathise with the fears about transport. I’m sure that as the plans for the new school mature that there will be opportunities to discuss the best possible options that will work locally in this respect.It is early days and I'm confident that the Council can work with local people and teachers to establish safe methods of transport.
I have tried to answer the points in 4 letter to me form the area. As a County Councillor, I have a duty to think about the future of ALL our communities – and ALL the children of Gwynedd. We only have one budget that has to work across the county. We have to re-structure so that the resources are spread in a fairer way. I believe that this re-structuring presents positive opportunities for rural areas like Dysynni – opportunities that can help protect their future – something that is important both of all.

At a meeting of the Community Council, we had a long discussion about Felin's parking problems. Until now the Council and myself have concentrated on improving SAFETY for pedestrians and drivers. Now, parking problems will be a priority matter.

Its obvious that more long term parking areas are needed. WHERE is the operative question. Closing the car park by the Surjery has made matters worse although the Church Hall is available for staff and patients and chapel goers - thanks!

I have asked Gwynedd Council to cost a scheme to build a new parking lay by in front of Augusta Place. If anyone has any other ideas - bring them on! Two or three places here and there .... or what about a permit system for locals to park on the street?

The village was built before cars. Now many families have not one but two or three cars. In future, there are likely to be less cars around as petrol prices increase and with climate change policies. In the meantime, mid-village parking is a problem! What can we do? Send your ideas to siangwenllian@yahoo.com

Mae’r Cynghorydd Aeron Jones, Llais Gwynedd, wedi codi nyth cacwn am bres gafodd ei roi i Ysgol Syr Hugh gan y Cyngor Sir. Mae’r wasg wedi cam – ddehongli rhai ffeithiau sylfaenol ac wedi defnyddio termau fel “dyled”, “gor-wario”, “ mynd i’r coch” – ANGHYWIR. Dim ffasiwn beth. Fel llywodraethwr yn yr Ysgol, dyma gyflwyno’r gwir ffeithiau :

Mae niferoedd disgyblion Syr Hugh wedi gostwng o 1200 i 900 mewn 3 blynedd - yn rhannol oherwydd tueddiadau ar draws y wlad ( llai o blant wedi eu geni ) OND hefyd pan unodd yr ysgol ar un campws, roedd pryder ar led fod yr ysgol yn rhy FAWR ac fe symudodd rai plant i ysgolion eraill. Erbyn hyn, mae pethau wedi sefydlogi ac fe gafwyd adroddiad Estyn calonogol iawn yn ddiweddar ac mae'r ddelwedd yn cryfhau unwaith eto. Mae pob ysgol yn cael pres yn ôl disgybl y pen. Llai o blant = llai o bres.

Ar ben hyn, mae’r ysgol, fel pob ysgol ac fel pob gwasanaeth llywodraeth leol wedi gorfod gwneud arbedion ariannol  - a’r rheiny wedi eu gorfodi o'r tu allan – yn bennaf am nad ydy llywodraeth San Steffan yn coelio mewn llywodraeth leol. Roedd hyn hefyd yn golygu fod llai o bres yn y gyllideb. Felly, roedd rhaid tocio swyddi a dros 4 blynedd mae 17 swydd wedi diflannu OND dim ond 2 allan o'r 17 oedd yn ddiswyddiadau GORFODOL. Aeth y lleill i ysgolion eraill neu fe fu iddyn nhw ymddeol yn gynnar – ni lanwyd y swyddi oedd yn dod yn wag.

Serch hyn, ni fu  gostyngiad mewn safonau ac roedd un athro i bob 15 disgybl yn yr ysgol.( Medi 2008).

OND, roedd y sefyllfa yn gwaethygu ac fe gamodd y Cyngor Sir i mewn – yn gwbwl ddoeth a phriodol – a chyfrannu £150,000 o gronfa argyfwng ysgolion. Heb yr arian hwn, byddai'r ysgol wedi gorfod wynebu mwy o doriadau - fyddai wedi gostwng safonau - a dim ond drwy ddiswyddo gorfodol y gellid fod wedi gwneud hynny. O roi yr arian, mae’r Sir wedi arbed hyn rhag digwydd, wedi cynnal safonau AC arbed arian i'r Sir ar daliadau diswyddo. Mae gorfod diswyddo’n orfodol yn broses ddrud. Gan fod y niferoedd yn codi eto - mi fyddai angen recriwtio mwy o staff yn y dyfodol agos beth bynnag  - gwiriondeb felly fyddai cael gwared â rhagor o staff yn y tymor byr.

Yn fy marn i roedd y penderfyniad yn un doeth a rhesymol : yn ariannol ac yn addysgol ac fe ddylid parchu proffesiynoldeb y swyddogion fu'n gwneud y penderfyniad. Sgen i mond diolch i Aeron Jones a Llais Gwynedd am godi sgwarnnog di-angen. Diolch i’r wasg am fethu deall y ffeithiau ac am greu niwed i enw da Ysgol Syr Hugh. Does ond gobeithio y daw pawb i ddeall y gwir ffeithiau maes o law.

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Documents & Links:

 

  • 02.03.09 SOS Cylch Meithrin (Nursery Group) Y Felinheli ...cliciwch yma
  • 29.01.09 - Felinheli - Felin Sgwrio "Officially Open"...click here
  • 29.01.09 - Felinheli - "Grandad's anger at foul problem" ...click here
  • 24.12.08 Parking Felinheli ...click here
  • 06.11.08 - "'Dangerous' bus stop is finally improved"...click here
  • 18.09.08 "Something needs to be done at blackspot!"...click here
  • 04.09.08 "Owners 'don't plan to house youngsters' in new dwelling"...click here
  • 31.07.08 - Felinheli - "Pensioner's reflief at path action pledge"...click here
  • 24.07.08 - Bryn Menai - "Council Opposes care home plans"...click here
  • 23.01.09 - Felin Sgwrsio - "Agor Melin i Sgwrsio ynddi"...click here