I've always liked the place. And its not just because Machynlleth has a history as a seat of government. The most well known instance of this was the establishment by Owain Glyndwr of a Parliament in 1404, where he was proclaimed the Prince of Wales. The nearest thing to a Parliament of Machynlleth that exists today is the debating forum at the local Bowling Club. In order to begin my research into the local attitude towards a proposed new Tesco supermarket in the town, it was to the Bowling Club that I went to began my journey. Seated at the 'cabinet table' was that great local historian and author, David Wyn Davies and the equally celebrated local tribune and leading town spokesman, Councillor Michael Williams. You may think it unusual for a 'parliament' to be disguised as a bowling club, but this could be a cunning plan to fool the 'outsider'.
After the taking of evidence, along with a lager, we three headed to the war zone, otherwise known as the local livestock market and old Travis Perkins site. This is where it is proposed that the supermarket be raised. Must admit I thought it was a very good site. Currently it an unattractive area, reasonably close to the town centre, with a long frontage onto the road. Its also adjacent to a well used railway station. I could see no credible planning reason whatsoever for not granting the application by Tesco to build its supermarket. But I'm told there is a lot of opposition, led by the Guardian writer, George Monbiot, who lives in the town, and the local MP, Lembit Opik.
I accept that there is some deeply felt opposition. There are posters in some shop windows stating 'Tesco. Dim Diolch' - which translates to Tesco No Thanks. But there are many more posters supporting the development, and not one single person that I spoke to today in Machynlleth or in near-by Penegoes had any objection at all. And as I blogged yesterday, Tesco has already brought some extra trade to the town's egg suppliers. Someone has been buying eggs to pelt the shop fronts of those who are opposing Tesco. I do not approve of this expression of opinion, but can find no rational reason to join in with the opposition myself. I'll have to leave this to the MP.
And then it was back for tea at the great historian's house. A good while ago, we were councillors together, and have a few memories between us. I left laden with his books to read. There was 'A Mach Lad' - a life story of Emrys James, the Shakespearian actor. And 'A History of the River Dovey'. And 'Hugh Williams' - the man who was Rebecca. And 'Machynlleth Town Trail' - a historical guide. I also joined the Civic Society for the fee of £1. And I have the telephone number of a direct descendant of Owain Glyndwr, who I'm told enjoys a game of social golf. Imagine that. Playing golf with a man related to the greatest ever Welshman. I must ring him tomorrow.