A letter has been sent to all Councillors at Lys Kernow/Cornwall Council ahead of a full council meeting on Tuesday (6th September 2011), where they will discuss whether to recommend to the UK government that St Piran’s Day becomes a public holiday in Cornwall in place of the May Day bank holiday.
The letter to the councillors has been jointly signed by the Kernow Branch Secretary and the General Secretary (GS) of the League and sets out some of the reasons why the branch believes that councillors should vote in favour of the recommendation. Earlier this year the branch were the first to make use of the Lys Kernow’s new e-petitions scheme by calling on Lys Kernow to debate the issue to make St Piran’s Day a public holiday and recommend that the UK government does the same. The branch is now hoping that the e-petition will be made redundant with a positive vote by the full council to recommend the UK government substitutes the May Day bank holiday with the for 5th March in Cornwall, if such a change is to occur.
A UK government white paper was released in March 2011, which set out the government’s idea to replace the May Day bank holiday with another holiday at a different time of the year, with any changes not set to take place until 2013. In July 2011 the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Lys Kernow voted in favour of recommending to the UK government that St Piran’s Day became a bank holiday for Cornwall.
The full text of the letter can be found below:
St Piran’s Holiday Debate (Lys Kernow/Cornwall Council 6th September 2011)
We are writing to you ahead of the Lys Kernow/Cornwall Council debate that is due to take place on 6th September 2011 on the creation of an annual public holiday for St Piran’s Day (5th March).
As you will be aware the debate on this topic follows the recommendation made by the Council’s Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny committee that stated that any change of bank holiday’s in Cornwall should lead to the creation of a public holiday on St Piran’s Day “to reflect our unique cultural heritage”. We are therefore writing to you, as a Councillor that is expected to take part in this debate, to ask that you vote in favour of this change.
The Celtic League has campaigned for an annual public holiday on 5th March for a number of years and we have achieved some degree of success. Currently there are at least nine councils in Cornwall who have debated the issue and have voted in favour of making St Piran’s Day a public holiday. Many town councils have said that even though they are sympathetic towards the aim of the campaign they would like to wait for a decision from Lys Kernow before finally deciding on the matter.
The Kernow Branch of the League are behind the creation of the first online Lys Kernow petition calling on the Council to vote in favour of St Piran’s Day becoming an annual holiday in Cornwall and to make a recommendation to the UK Government to do the same. The online petition currently has over 300 signatures and the branch has committed itself to raising this number to 5000 by next March, which it still intends to do by taking the petition to the streets from October 2011, if the Council does not make the desired recommendation to the UK government on the 6th September.
The important cultural role of St Piran among the general public is evident in the establishment of an increasing number of annual community led events being organised in towns and villages throughout Cornwall, with towns like Redruth committing itself to even bigger celebrations next year. Many people in Cornwall already take an annual day off work for 5th March and schools often take part in festivities within their communities for the same reason. We are sure that this will continue to occur whether or not the Council votes in favour of the Committee’s recommendation or not.
The recent government white paper gives Lys Kernow a unique opportunity to vote on an issue that has the potential to enhance the distinct cultural nature of Cornwall. Scotland already celebrates their national saint day on 30th November (St Andrews) with a public holiday and Wales is likely to follow suit as a consequence of the opportunity presented to the Welsh government in the white paper. Lys Kernow now has the same opportunity as Wales to vote in favour of a St Piran public holiday and recommend to the UK government that this is the preference of the people of Cornwall. If the council is unsure that this is what the people of Cornwall want and more evidence is required, then perhaps a referendum on the issue should be proposed.
Local public holidays were traditional in the British Isles until a `one size fits all’ policy was introduced in recent history. In other European states `local’ public holidays are still common place and research shows that local public holidays can boost the economy.
It should be remembered that what is being proposed is not an additional state wide public holiday, which the government argues costs £2.9 billion, but a replacement for the current May Day bank holiday. The number of public holidays in the UK will therefore remain the same, but if St Piran’s day becomes the preference, then an added value to Cornwall will be achieved.
We believe that by voting in favour of making 5th March an annual holiday you will be showing the public that you support the distinctiveness of Cornwall and are prepared to celebrate this increasingly important event in Cornwall’s cultural calendar.
Some of our members will be present at the debate and we will make the link to the web cast on the Council’s website available for our members to follow. For your information a copy of this letter will go out to all Lys Kernow councillors.
Kernow Branch Secretary
For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:
Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912
M: 0044 (0)7787318666
The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.
ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.