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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 13:00 GMT
Apology over 'insults' to English
A Welsh nationalist councillor at the centre of a row over English people moving into Wales has apologised "unreservedly" for any offence caused by his comments.

Seimon Glyn - chairman of Gwynedd County Council's housing committee - had described English as a "foreign language" and said retired people moving over to Wales were a "drain on resources".

Seimon Glyn
Plaid Cymru councillor Seimon Glyn

But party chairman Elin Jones said Mr Glyn had assured her that his comments had been "taken entirely out of context" by a newspaper.

"His only intention in making the comments was to draw attention to the serious nature of the housing situation in rural Gwynedd," she said.

"Councillor Glyn endeavoured to highlight the problems faced, by young people in particular, when they are priced out of the property market.

"'The blame for this does not lie with those individuals who buy these properties.

"It lies with the constraints placed on local authorities in trying to deal with the problem."

And, she stressed: "I know that Councillorr Glyn is most sincere in apologising for any offence or hurt he may have inadvertently caused."

Learning Welsh

Mr Glyn caused a furore on Monday when he told a BBC Radio Wales that the numberof English people moving to Wales should be strictly monitored and made to learn Welsh.

His comments followed a report warning that traditional rural Welsh communities could die out because of rocketing house sales.

Fears are growing that local people simply cannot afford the asking prices in places like Gwynedd.

Nearly a third of all properties bought in the area during a 12-month period were sold to people moving into the county and some councillors are calling on the Welsh Assembly to back a scheme to enable locals to buy homes.

Llanberis in Gwynedd
Peoplel fear being priced out of the market

"We are faced with a situation now where we are getting tidal waves of migration, inward migration into our rural areas from England, and these people are coming here to live to establish themselves here, and to influence our communities and our culture with their own," Mr Glyn told BBC Radio Wales.

"It makes us even poorer and it is absolutely no use to the community to have retired people from England coming down here to live and being a drain on our resources," he said.

Don Touhig, MP for the south Wales constituency of Islwyn, condemned the comments as insulting to the majority of Welsh people, too.

"While nobody would dispute the problems facing many rural communities in Wales, these horrifying remarks betray the insularity and hostility to Britain which lays just beneath the surface of so much nationalist rhetoric," he said.

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