A young farmer from Trawsfynydd has announced he is going to go without food for seven days as part of a campaign for Wales to have powers over broadcasting.
20 year old Elfed Wyn Jones was born and raised on the family farm in Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd. He will start his fast on Tuesday next week (20th February) and will continue until the following Tuesday.
The news comes as the report of an independent review of S4C is to be released. It is due to consider, among other issues, whether the responsibility for S4C from Westminster should be devolved to the Assembly. A petition with over a thousand names calling for powers to be moved from London to Cardiff was presented during the review. A delay in publishing the conclusions of the inquiry, presented to the UK Government before Christmas, means the broadcaster doesn't know what its budget will be from this April onwards.
In 2013, the Silk Commission - a cross party review commissioned by the UK Government - concluded that control over the Westminster's financial contribution to S4C should be transferred to the Welsh Government. Over fifty people are currently refusing to pay for their TV licenses as part of a campaign to devolve broadcasting powers to the National Assembly.
Elfed is studying for a degree in Aberystwyth University, but is still working on the farm during his course. Explaining his decision to fast for a week, Elfed Wyn Jones said:
"I believe strongly in democracy, and so I'm very concerned about something important that is lacking in Welsh politics. We as a country can't move towards our goals without voices that are critical of our Government, but that also explain to us how the system works, noting what is devolved – such as agriculture, health, education – and the things that are not, such as the legal system. We don't see the Welsh perspective in our news and on our television stations. This is also a barrier to the development of channels and streams to develop more Welsh language channels and stations, and the lack of respect for the language by the BBC is glaringly obvious. Change is needed, the system needs to develop, by having a voice for Wales, that comes from Wales, so we can strengthen our democracy.
Speaking about the impact of the fast on him, he said:
"It's going to be difficult, I'll only be drinking tap water. I will miss everything from my bowl of porridge in the morning to my jacket potato in the evening. But when I think of what this will achieve for the people of Wales, better democracy, clearer information, better TV in Welsh and English, it will give me strength to fight 'till the deed is done. "
According to the results of a YouGov survey last year, 65% of people in Wales support giving broadcasting powers to the Assembly while only 35% want politicians in Westminster to retain the power.
“I hope that my action will show just how serious the need for Wales to have control over broadcasting is. I accept my responsibility for taking the action – not in order to force the authorities or anyone else, but in order to encourage others to accept their responsibility. The time has long come for our Assembly Members to accept their responsibility, and for us, the people of Wales, to accept responsibility for insisting that decisions about the media in Wales are made by the people of Wales. From the lack of a Welsh-language presence on commercial radio and local television, to the serious cuts to S4C, it's clear that London is not governing the media in the interests of the people of Wales. The time has come to devolve broadcasting to Wales so that we can shape our own system.”