Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday 5 July 2007

Confusion in Wales over 'public safety' and 'commercial interest'

Something about the first few lines of this story made me wonder just what lay behind it - a little further down the page it became a lot clearer, and (in my humble opinion) it's not at all pretty. The community of Betws-y-Coed is located in Snowdonia.

Consider what Mark Edwards, Chair of the local tourism association and operator of a local Bed & Breakfast, is quoted as saying:

"So far we've been very lucky, no-one has got hurt, but what people forget is that swift water is very unpredictable. It is a dangerous occupation, and for everybody's safety and peace of mind it needs to be stamped out."

The 'it' in question is the practice of (presumably younger) people jumping off a local bridge into fast-flowing water and posting videos of their exploits on websites such as YouTube; not something that I, even in my youth, would care to have done - but let that pass. However, to say it is inherently "dangerous" when in his own words "no-one has got hurt" does seems like "making a mountain out of a molehill", one of the inadvertant pieces of self-knowledge that Marion Bettoney, chair of the community council, reveals in her comments:

"To other people in the whole of Wales it might seem that we're making a mountain out of a molehill, but we're not, because it actually stops the flow of traffic.

"It is also bringing in a different calibre of people to the village, and they're not people who come in and enjoy our village."

Ah, it all becomes clearer. It think this has little to do with 'safety' , it seems to be a measure to try and improve traffic flow, which may of course have implications for safety, although slow-moving traffic is probably kess likely to cause accidents than fast-moving traffic, other things being equal, I'd have thought. But there is more. When she adds that the practice is bringing a "different calibre of people to the village, and they're not people who come in and enjoy our village" - I presume she does not mean a 'better' calibre. It think it probable that she means they dress differently than visitors they are used to, are noisy (or at least boisterous) and don't spend [enough] money in local establishments - that's the "enjoy our village" bit.

To summarise, visitors to a local (presumably) 'beauty spot' do things which locals don't like and, to add insult to injury, don't even allow the locals to profit [much] out of it. It sounds just like a typical plot-line out of The League of Gentleman, except I hope and presume that these 'bridge jumpers' are allowed to leave the village afterward and don't end up as road-fill or in the local butcher's meat pies. On reflection, the local squire in The Vicar of Dibley is probably a better analogy. In any case Betws-y-Coed sound like a really inward-looking place and I doubt if it's worth adding to the list of places I wish to see before I die.

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