OVER a year after it was put forward, a motion to support the agricultural sector and promote wool has been unanimously approved by Powys County Councillors.
At the council meeting on Thursday, December 9, Plaid Cymru group leader Cllr Elwyn Vaughan, finally got the opportunity to present his motion to establish the equivalent of WRONZ, Wool Research Organisation New Zealand in Mid Wales as part of the £110million Growth Deal for the region.
Cllr Vaughan said: “I want Powys the home of the largest wool grading centre in the UK at Newtown and a town that’s been built on the back of the wool trade to benefit and see a cluster of enterprises in the area using wool, the promotion of innovation and new ideas from international lessons.”
“In doing so we would make the area proud of its tradition whilst maximising economic potential for the area.”
Cabinet member Cllr Myfanwy Alexander said: “In its heyday wool was the absolute driver of the economy in Powys, it’s wool that built the Pryce-Jones building.
“I’d like to put some emphasis on the environmental aspects, it’s a naturally occurring substance, is you put it in the sea it disappears, a micro-fibre fleece will have particles that stay in the sea forever.”
Cllr Alexander also believed that people should wear more wool.
Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris – who is also joint-chairman of the Growing Mid Wales Board that’s steers the Growth Deal, said: “The sheep trade is quite good but that relates to meat, sadly wool has become seen as more of a by-product than what it was.
“There are many more uses than just clothing or carpets.”
Cllr Harris explained that to benefit from the £110 million Growth Deal, the idea would need to go through a five-case business model.
Cllr Harris said: “It’s quite a tough model to bring forward, firstly we would need seed corn funding to look at a feasibility study.
“I’m happy to take it forward.”
Cllr Gwilym Williams wondered what the British Wool Marketing Board had been doing to help the sector.
Cllr Williams said: “They are the ones who have the control, the price is disgraceful, the high cost of products has been mentioned, who’s making the money as it’s not the producer.”
Cllr William Powell congratulated Cllr Vaughan for having the “resilience” to keep plugging away to get the motion discussed.
One of the issues that has meant the motion has taken over a year to discuss, is that a dispensation was needed from the Standards committee.
This allowed councillors who are also sheep farmers – or have close personal associates in sheep farming – could speak but not to vote on matters relating to wool.
After the discussion, fingers needed to be crossed to ensure that enough councillors were left to allow a legal vote to take place.
For this to happen a quorum of 19 of 73 councillors was needed.
The vote took place and all 26 remaining councillors voted in favour of the motion.