Campaigners fear for future of Welsh language in council

First published in News by

Welsh language campaigners are concerned that Ceredigion County Council may look at cutting its bilingual services as it faces having to make savings of £11m next year.

A website survey asks residents to choose between the options of 'maintain at current level', 'reduce' or 'stop providing' for a wide range of council services.

But Cymdeithas yr Iaith, already concerned by the drop of Welsh speakers in the county to under half in the last census, are worried that it could lead to the council scrapping all its Welsh medium provision.

Hywel Griffiths, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith in the area, said:

"While we do not agree with austerity, we accept that the council must save money due to Government cuts. Our concern is that Welsh language services will be lost even though it is 'bilingual services' that are being considered. Although the council has put a new strategy in place, the mindset has not changed - the Welsh language is still being seen as something extra, a service, rather than the working language of the council."

The language movement also claim that council leader Ellen ap Gwynn has failed to keep to her promise to ensure that the internal language of the council is Welsh.

Toni Schiavone, chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith's Sustainable Communities group, said:

"Back in 2011, Ellen ap Gwynn, now Leader of the Council, signed a statement to say that she agreed with the principle that the council should work through the Welsh. We would expect, now that Plaid Cymru is the leader of a coalition in Ceredigion, that steps are being taken to make Welsh the language of work in the council, but the council, so far, has shown no intention to ensure that the Welsh language is a priority.

"If a major employer in the county made a clear intention to move to work in Welsh, as Carmarthenshire County Council has started to do, it would set an example for other organisations across the county - and would show school pupils that there is a great value to the Welsh education they receive.

"In addition, if the council is committed to working in Welsh and translated into English as needed, it would, in fact, saves translation costs. However, we still believe that translation services are important to ensure all the non-Welsh can relate to the business of the council."

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