Page last updated at 19:04 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 20:04 UK

Keith Towler enters row over Urdd's alcohol decision

Llanerchaeron estate near Aberaeron
The Urdd Eisteddfod will be held at the Llanerchaeron estate

The Children's Commissioner for Wales is to meet Urdd leaders to discuss their decision to serve alcohol at this year's National Urdd Eisteddfod.

Keith Towler will raise concerns with Urdd officials before the event in Aberaeron, Ceredigion, in May.

The Urdd has defended its move, claiming it is not just an organisation for children and young people.

James Doorley of the National Youth Council of Ireland, said the decision sent the wrong messages to youngsters.

In response to inquiries by BBC Wales' Taro Naw programme, the commissioner's office said it wanted to discuss a number of issues and concerns with Urdd officials.

The Urdd has said that the selling of wine in a restaurant area on the field will be carefully supervised but the decision is not supported by some youth movements in Europe.

Mr Doorley, the deputy director of the National Youth Council of Ireland, said: "Most youth organisations [in Ireland] working with those under 18 would apply a no drinks policy for events, weekends away, activities.

"Not only would drink not be allowed but adult staff and leaders would be told that it would not be appropriate to be drinking in the presence of young people or going out for a night in the pub while young people are back in the hostel.

Keith Towler
Keith Towler will meet Urdd leaders

"Again, the idea is to set a good example."

The Welsh Assembly Government's petitions committee only last week commissioned a brief about the availability of alcohol at other events aimed at young people which received assembly government funding.

The committee is also awaiting a response on the decision from Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones AM.

Its members will then give further consideration to a petition by the Welsh Council for Alcohol and Drug Abuse regarding the Urdd's entitlement to public funds as a result of its move.

'Relax together'

Wendy Crisp and John Williams Ellis, who each run businesses which cater for families with young children but also sell alcohol on site, say their venues allow families to relax.

Ms Crisp, who runs the Hwylfan /Fun Centre in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, said: "We have never had a problem selling alcohol since we opened.

"The purpose is to allow families to relax together, with the children being able to play while the parents can enjoy something to eat with a glass of wine."

John Williams Ellis, who owns the Glasfryn Leisure Park near Pwllheli, also in Gwynedd, said: "It's part and parcel of the scene like music, pool tables and eating. We are a family destination where young and old can mix, from all age groups."

The Urdd declined to take part in the programme, saying it had already responded at length on the issue over the last few months.

The organisation pointed out that the decision to sell alcohol had been taken democratically with the support of its regional committees, as well as the Urdd Eisteddfod Council and Eisteddfod Board.

Taro Naw, BBC Wales on S4C, 29 March, 2130 BST.



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Petition over festival drink plan
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