LOCAL politicians MP Ben Lake and MS Elin Jones and have spoken of their ‘huge disappointment’ that latest census figures show the number of Welsh speakers in Ceredigion has dropped by two per cent.

In a joint statement they said the decrease indicated that there continued to be ‘a very real threat’ to the long-term viability of the Welsh language in the county.

“And the decline also emphasises the fact that, if it wasn’t for all the efforts to support the Welsh language in Ceredigion, the language could be in a far worse state today,” the statement continued.

“What’s most disheartening is the 6.5 per cent decrease in 3-15 year-old Welsh speakers.

“This is surprising given the increase in provision of primary Welsh-medium education in Ceredigion over the last 10 years.

“Further analysis of this figure is needed and any information held by the Education Authority on school pupils will be informative in explaining this decline.

“More encouraging is the stabilisation in the number of adults under 65 speaking Welsh, with no significant change since 2011.

“We must now redouble our efforts to put measures in place to promote and support the Welsh language.

“Global economic and demographic forces are at play that will always work against smaller, minority languages.

“Locally in Ceredigion and in Wales we need to work together to find solutions to counteract these economic and social factors.

“The Welsh language belongs to us all and enriches our lives.

“We all have a stake in its future whether we speak it or not. It’s vital that we protect it for our future generations.

“The Welsh language differentiates us from the rest of the world, but also enables us to understand multi-lingualism in a multi-lingual world.”