Newport planning department have rejected ‘ on its merits’ the pulling down of a ruined farmhouse eyesore adjacent to the 18th hole at the Celtic Manor golfing resort. This has stimulated a huge outcry from some quarters claiming that - a) this will ruin forever people’s image of Wales when they visit or view on TV the Ryder Cup and b) this decision is somehow a classic demonstration of the parochialism and infighting that we Welsh are apparently overly prone to and which has held back our Nation for centuries and moreover is the (incredible) reason why we don’t win all our international Rugby games (according to rugby coach Steve Hansen) .
Firstly, is Sir Terry Matthews and his monstrous eyesore of a golfing palace at Celtic Manor really what we as a Nation wish to portray as the ‘best of Wales’? Are we so poor in culture , landscape and history that hosting the Ryder Cup is seen by some as the pinnacle of our achievements over the centuries? Clearly no.
Secondly, even though the derelict ‘ruin’ in question is admittedly a ‘monstrous carbuncle’ to quote a famous person of German Sax Coburg lineage keen on classical architecture, we have not yet had the real reasons behind Newport Planning’s decision to preserve this Grade II building. Surely it cannot be because of spite or envy as is claimed? Old buildings aren’t ‘listed’ for no apparent reason, are they?
Thirdly, it is claimed that the ruin will spoil the view of the visitors and TV audience for the Ryder Cup. I disagree. People will be watching the golf, I presume. I have been watching the Open at St.Andrew’s on TV and didn’t see much at all of the surrounding buildings or area around the golf course. In addition, it certainly didn’t inspire me to visit Scotland as a tourist so why should hosting the Ryder Cup stimulate more tourists to Wales?? It won’t. Americans don’t visit Wales in any case. I and others have never understood why Tourism Wales and the WAG have put so much marketing and infrastructure resource into this – the only beneficiary being Sir Terry and Celtic Manor. The idea that golf is ‘good for business’ and the economy is ridiculous and out of date and, if anything, shows how abysmally ignorant the WAG and other public sector supporters of this event are about business. Deals are not ‘done on a golf course’ any more.
Sir Terry is a brilliant (business)man and worth all the accolades that have been heaped upon him, I’m sure. But let’s face it his fortune was not and never could have been ‘ made in Wales’ as I’m sure he would be the first to admit. He may be frustrated and angry in having this planning decision go against him but this is insignificant compared to the frustrations that we as a People have faced over the years and contrary to some commentators arrogant opinions these have NOT been self-inflicted.