There is a great need for a new vision for our communities in Gwynedd and Môn. The intention of presenting this strategy is to offer another way of looking at what is important to people from their point of view. This means prioritising our communities.
The priority that has been given, and is given to capitalism, economic growth and profit above everything else, hoping that prosperity will flow from the top down, has failed. In addition, the Westminster government’s austerity policy has torn our communities apart and squeezed our County Councils to such an extent that we see them having to justify unpopular policies – and consequently coming into confrontation with local people. This is not how things should be.
In a comparatively poor area, it is easy to understand why councils welcome grandiose schemes. The word “Jobs” should not blind us to the need to ask basic questions about the nature of industries, who will get the jobs, and who will profit, and what sort of problems will come in their wake – for people and the environment.
SAIL'S THINKING GUIDELINES
By now, acting to defend our environment is important to a growing number of people. The process of exhausting the earth's resources and polluting has accelerated since the Industrial Revolution – in which Wales played a leading part. Now, it is evident that we cannot continue as before or we will face a climate, biodiversity and food tragedy and ultimately humanity's ability to survive. In our areas, we should consider each development in this light.
The old story of capitalism is to put commercial profit before the interests and values of people, communities and the environment. The threats coming from this are intensifying as the environmental, economic, social and cultural problems of the system increase.
We argue that central and local government policies should be transformed in the direction of supporting what is called 'the foundational economy'. In so doing we are echoing the vision of a growing number of economists and policy makers. The supporters of the basic economy argue that supporting a few multinational technology comapnies should not be the chief aim of central and local governments economic development policy as it is currently. Alternatively, governments should prioritise supporting communities and the basic economy.
By adopting the community development model and linking the model to the principles and operation of the basic economy it is believed that there is potential to transform the economy and communities of Wales. It is SAIL's intention to offer a strategy and economic and community manifesto for an alternative future for Gwynedd and Môn. The manifesto will include different sections on the steps that can be taken by individuals, communities, community and county councils, Welsh, UK and EU government development agencies.
THE CURRENT OFFICIAL STRATEGY DEFECTS
The workers of Gwynedd and Môn produced vast services but it was others who profited most from the labour and natural resources of the region.
Without ownership and control of our resources, our history will continue like this.
Large plans of the past, like Trawsfynydd, Wylfa A and Aliwminiwm Mon, have not solved the problem – some would argue that they have worsened matters.
The North Wales Economic Ambition Board supports a Growth Plan Bid for North Wales “where the focus of economic growth is on pioneering high value economic sectors”.
The most prominent example of this is Wylfa B, which has now been suspended. The obvious truth is that the economic future of Ynys Môn and Gwynedd has been put without question in the hands of a few people in a room in Tokyo – namely Hitachi’s Company board.
A COMMUNITY STRATEGY FOR GWYNEDD AND MÔN
Essentially, the basis of our staregy is this:
The idea of “Economic Growth” in the current form is not sustainable any more. When people will not be needed, when natural resources will have been exhausted, or when a new process take their place, the capitalist machine will move on without taking responsibility for the damage done. We see this in the quarry areas and the area of the copper industry (Amlwch), and in the world of agriculture we see depopulation as there is a need for fewer and fewer workers, and intensive farming which can lead to environmental problems.
Plans which would harm our communities, our language and culture, and our environment.
This is a strategy which responds to the sense of despair among our communities which emanates from generations of economic neglect by central governments.
We believe that there is better hope for our economy to survive resiliently if development is from the bottom up. The emphasis is on local needs rather than the demands of capitalism. We believe that the purpose of a prosperous economy and employment is to create satisfactory living conditions for everybody. This means homes, work and health.
The foundational economy is the sector of the economy which employs 40% of the workforce, which is partly public and partly private, which provides goods and services which are taken for granted and which everybody need and which are therefore anchored in our communities. The foundational economy is, in its essence, social and community based.
In accordance with the ideology of the foundational economy, there are two sets of ideas at the heart of SAIL’s vision and they are noted below.
- The wellbeing and prosperity of people depend less on buying goods and services for individuals and more on the provision of community goods and services. Things like the water supply, schools, hospitals, banks and care homes. The individual’s expenditure depends on the individual’s income but the use of community goods and services are dependent on the community provision.
- Therefore, the main role of public policies should be to ensure better basic services for everybody rather than the blinkered obsession with economic growth and increasing the number of jobs without considering their quality or value.
We don’t claim that we have all the answers.
It is our intention to start a discussion, not to offer detailed answers for each single community and area. But the hope is that those specific answers will be shaped by the principles and thought discussed here.
Our hope is to urge people to think creatively and innovatively. To think that there are different ways of measuring success. To think that there are different ways of putting a roof above our people’s heads. To think that there are sustainable ways of using our lands and seas. To think that work can be created for people rather than for foreign capital. The people who can do this are with us in our communities – if we have the appropriate tools for the work.