Llandow is in the spotlight this week
Llandow is in the spotlight this week for two very different reasons.
Later this week, work will start on the site of the National Eisteddfod 2012 in the Western Vale. The site preparation however, follows closely on the heels of a Public Inquiry into the planning application for exploration of shale gas at a site on the Llandow Business Park.
I was absolutely delighted when the brilliant news broke about the National Eisteddfod was coming to the Vale in August 2012.
Since my childhood, I’ve been going to the Eisteddfod regularly, and have enjoyed hours of wandering the Maes (the site where the festival is held), meeting old friends, and of course listening to the competitions and the concerts.
The Eisteddfod is a very special event that will attract up to 160,000 visitors to the Vale, acting as a shop window for economic investments in general and tourism in the Vale. The Eisteddfod can generate up to £6-8 million to the host area each year, which is great news for local businesses.
Recent figures show that 11.2% of people living in the Vale are employed in the tourism and hospitality sectors, with many more living further afield by working in the Vale. Ironic then that during the same week that work starts on the Eisteddfod site, we also have the Public Inquiry into the planning application for exploration for shale gas.
Although we won’t know the outcome of the inquiry by the time you read this article, I will have made my representation to the Planning Inspector at the inquiry in Barry. My very real concerns are that the potential discovery of shale gas will most certainly go against the aspirations we share for the communities of the Vale – to live, work and welcome tourists to such a beautiful part of Wales.
It’s important to use the Eisteddfod as an opportunity to bring together the traditions of the Vale as well – the native Welsh speakers, English-language areas and people who have moved here to live. The Vale is a unique place, combining the beauty of the rural areas and the legacy of the stunning coastline with our industrial history of coal exporting and the traditional miners’ holidays to Barry Island in the summer.
I was greatly encouraged to hear that many local business’ have already committed to supporting the Eisteddfod through sponsorship – from Lafarge in Aberthaw, to SiteServe in Llandow and Harris Pye Marine in Barry.
Fundraising within local communities right across the Vale has been a huge challenge for all involved, but well worth the effort as targets are being met. Only last Saturday I supported the popular and successful Hogaroc event in Penllyn as their event auctioneer. There has been a kaleidoscope of events from sporting days out, themed evenings, fish & chip suppers and dog shows to name but a few which have helped raise essential funds.
I’d urge local traders and tourism providers to make sure that they plan ahead to maximise all the opportunities presented by this week-long event.
I will also be pressing the local authority to ensure that all areas and towns around the Maes location are ship-shape and looking their best. If you’d like to find out more about the opportunities available from stalls and bunting to tickets, you can contact the Eisteddfod office on 0845 4090 300.
With such an influx of visitors to the area it’s vital that the significant increase in traffic is well-managed, and I know that the organizers and local authority officers have been working hard over the past few months to lessen any disruption to locals and visitors alike. I would however, urge the planners to consult with local farmers and businesses based in the Western Vale regarding their traffic plans and routes.
I’m really looking forward to a fantastic and unforgettable Eisteddfod this year – it really needs to be, of course, to ensure the legacy of the festival in our community.
I’m convinced that the Eisteddfod will put the Vale on the map, not only for 2012, but for many years to come.