After another successful week at the Royal Welsh Show, a window on the best of rural Wales, it focuses minds on the future of these communities, writes cllr Elwyn Vaughan.

Rural depopulation is one of the main challenges we face in Mid Wales.

Powys is the largest and most sparsely populated county in Wales, 2,000 square miles (5,200 km2) and a population of 133,200.

The 2021 census shows an increase of 22.3% in people aged 65+, a decrease of 5.8% of aged 15 to 64 years, and a decrease of 9.3% in children aged under 15 years in Powys.

In contrast there’s been a explosion in the retired population in Powys up 22.3% aged 65+. Wales has 18.4% but in Powys it’s 27.8%.

County Times:

The number of people aged 65+ in Powys was 34,158 in 2021, but is predicted to increase to 47,165 by 2036.

It doesn’t need a genius to work out this population imbalance presents huge challenges, not only in the ability to support and care for a ever older population but the lower number of children presents educational challenges.


That’s why we need a positive vision for future - one that’s not focussed on a small number of large economic projects which take all the potential investment but one that’s based on sustainability, adding value, making the most of our natural assets. Creating a entrepreneurial culture, a can do attitude.

• We need to establish a rural development agency learning lessons from the previous DBRW – Development Board for Rural Wales

• Extend the ARFOR initiative; which covers Ceredigion and Gwynedd and promotes entrepreneurial opportunities in Welsh speaking communities to Montgomeryshire

• Establish a food innovation hub or cluster, building on the positive reputation of the Royal Welsh Show - promoting innovation, adding value, having commercial kitchens, and space for businesses to grow from ideas to reality

• Ensure that the principle of Sense of Place is a fundamental cornerstone of our hospitality sector – utilising local food, art, language and culture ensuring Powys is different and stands out from the crowd.

• Re-establish Llwybro programme of tracking and maintaining contact with young people that had left rural Wales. 

Montgomeryshire has a long healthy entrepreneurial flair and dynamism – we need that now more than ever.