Thursday, January 22, 2009

Troubled Times

In economic terms the future for Anglesey is not rosy. We have been seriously affected by the current economic downturn. There are few employers of significant size on the island.

A large employer is the Anglesey County Council. Whilst they work to promote Anglesey in commercial terms they appear not to be shedding any staff. However, The Welsh Audit Office have said they are not happy about the poor relationship between elected members and senior management. Having been a Local Government Officer for 28 years until retirement, I can tell you that this is unheard of in local government! How can the Council be at odds with those who direct their departments? Ye it appears to be the case at present.

Another large employer is scheduled to close in 2010. This is Wylfa Nuclear Power Station near Cemaes Bay. Whilst there are plans to replace this with the latest generation of nuclear power stations the task will take a number of years. I just hope that the decommissioning of the station will employ a similar number to the workforce decommissioning Trawfynydd Nuclear Power Station in Snowdonia. Linked to this is the problem of getting power at a special rate for Anglesey Aluminium Company who currently receive a private supply from Wylfa. The smelting company which uses about 12% of all electricity in Wales has declared it will close in September 2009 when its contract with Wylfa runs out as no power generator is prepared to provide electricity at an affordable price. I cannot imagine a situation during a period of economic stagnation where a company does not snatch the hand of such a major consumer. Are they just plain greedy?

In Holyhead a local electrical company is to close because production there cannot match that of another factory in the group. Stena Line have reduced the number of sailings of the Stena HSS, fast ferry sailing between Holyhead and Dublin. The number of passengers has fallen. Rehau, Amlwch based plastic company are experiencing hard times. On the economic front all is doom and gloom.

Yet it is true to say that Anglesey has never been a place for marvellous employment opportunities. Our population is 67,000 with many incoming English people supplying the business for local firms. Without us I wonder what the scene would be like. It is such a shame because the island is a lovely place with lovely people who welcome you so openly.

For the tourist we have a lot to offer. Of course, nowhere would you find a resort organised like Blackpool. We have a number of discreet attractions for everyone and accommodation to spare. I can say we have at least seventeen beaches with good access. If there is an on shore wind blowing you can drive across the island to one where the wind is off shore and the beach is sheltered. We have a beautiful pastoral scene with both arable and livestock farming carried on. the food you find here that is truly local food is second to none as the monthly local produce markets in Menai Bridge display.

But I remain optimistic about the future because you have to believe in better times. Without optimism life is pretty dire and depressing. I still say that Anglesey is a place that lives in my heart as warm and welcoming. No regrets about settling here - and no plans to ever leave!


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