What is fair?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Yesterday, Peter Shuttleworth wrote a lengthy and thoughtful story about funding heritage railways in Wales for the BBC website which you can find by clicking here or by going to https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-55043446.

Image – Ffestiniog Railway

The gist of the story is that heritage railways in Wales have received less funding during the pandemic from the Welsh government that they might have got if the they were in another country of the UK, in this case England.

It was pointed out that the North Yorkshire and Severn Valley railways both turnover about the same sort of money that the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales does yet the North Yorkshire received about £1.94 million and the Sever Valley received £900,000.

Ffestiniog also happens to be the world’s oldest narrow guage railway and that alone might justify greater support.

According to the article, railways in England could apply for up to a million pounds from the Cultural Recovery Fund (this applies only to England) and they could also tap into other funding. In Wales, the heritage railways could only apply for £150,000 each although, in fairness the Welsh Government claims it could be as high as £500,000.

All of the Welsh heritage railways combined – there are eleven in all – got £715,000 which is on average £65,000 each.

Forget, for a moment the fact that those railways bring £55 million to the UK economy, support many jobs and receive about a million visitors each year.

All heritage railways have had a tough time as Just about Travel pointed out in May.

Image – The North Yorkshire Moors Railway

The underlying aspect of Shuttleworth’s story is that the response to the pandemic’s effects have been different throughout the four nations. People working in the same industries and the industries themselves have been treated differently.

For the first time in over twenty years, how UK citizens and organisations are treated is becoming an underlying cause of concern.

The fact that the four governments have the responsibility and right to go their own ways doesn’t matter to the voters. They see one group getting more of the cake than they are getting and that breeds discontent. Prior to the pandemic, the differing matters between the four nations didn’t seem so strong in people’s thinking.

That is changing.

People and companies will look at the treatment they are receiving and they compare it what is happening elsewhere in order to get a better deal. They are starting to play one government off against another and elected politicians are succumbing to constituent annoyance.

The hospitality industry has seen pubs and restaurants closed in some places and not in others. This hasn’t been solely down to outbreaks in the places but in the wider locality in which they are. People have popped across the borders into England from Wales and vice versa. The same has happened with England and Scotland and Northern Ireland with Ireland.

Politicians seem to forget that people cross borders regularly and they will go to where the best deal is even though that may not be in the best interests of the UK as a whole.

Speaking with one voice at the moment seems more important than ever. But as always, politicking seems to be preferred.

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