THE UK government has refused a request to make Dydd Gwyl Dewi a bank holiday - claiming too many people work across the border to make it feasible.

Dydd Gwyl Dewi or St David's Day does not have official national holiday status despite previous calls from politicians and others for the day to be a paid holiday.

Gwynedd Council wrote to the UK government in October requesting for March 1 to be a bank holiday, noting that Scotland and Northern Ireland are both able to designate their own national holidays while Wales cannot.

Responding to the council, small business minister Paul Scully said: “While we appreciate that the people of Wales want to celebrate their patron saint, more people work across the English/Welsh border than across the English/Scottish Border.

“This closer degree of integration could cause greater business disruption. If we had separate bank holidays in England and Wales, the impact on both employees and businesses is difficult to predict.”

Stats Wales figures show that in 2019 there were 98,500 people who commuted out of Wales to work while 42,700 travel in to Wales to clock on.

However, Scully added that the UK government is committed to “working together with all the devolved administrations to ensure that the UK’s institutions are working collectively as one United Kingdom”.

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Plaid Cymru councillor Nia Jeffreys from Gwynedd Council said she was “very disappointed” by the answer from the minister.

“St David’s Day is an important date in our calendar and our hearts in Wales and we should be able to celebrate it as a national holiday,” she said.

“The response shows a lack of understanding of devolution and of Wales, but sadly this is what we have come to expect from the Boris Johnson’s UK Government.”

Until the late 1980s it was common for schools in Wales to close at half day on March 1 and some fear a full bank holiday could dilute the significance of the day on which many schools hold events such as eisteddfods and children dress in traditional costume.

Wales and England currently enjoy seven Bank Holidays compared to nine in Scotland and 10 in Northern Ireland.

St Andrew’s Day has been a public holiday in Scotland since the passing of the St Andrew’s Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007, although remaining at the discretion of employers, with St Patrick’s Day also a designated public holiday on the island of Ireland.

Successive UK governments have so far failed to grant Wales similar powers to the other Celtic nations, requiring amendments to the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971.

This is despite the then National Assembly voting unanimously in favour of a St David’s Day Bank Holiday in 2000.

In 2014 it was also reported that First Minister Carwyn Jones had written to the Secretary of State for Wales to seek legislative competence to make Wales’ national day a Bank Holiday, but that move was also rebuffed.

Responding to such points, Scully’s reply to Gwynedd Council went on to note: “Each devolution settlement has been developed against a backdrop of different histories, economic, social and cultural and legal systems.

“Different factors will require separate considerations. What works in one place may not work for another and we should not assume that devolution is the right solution because the matter is devolved elsewhere.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “We have asked the UK Government time and time again to devolve the powers to designate a St David’s Day Bank Holiday to the Senedd, and its very disappointing that these requests continue to be refused.”

An online petition by Elfed Wyn ap Elwyn calling on the UK government to establish a St David’s Day Bank Holiday has so far gathered over 6,000 signatures, requiring 10,000 to garner an official response or 100,000 to be considered for Parliamentary debate.

It can be found at – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/599066

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