THE future of the Welsh language in Denbighshire is under threat of a terminal decline, a series of public meetings has heard.
Denbighshire County Council is holding a consultation into the future of the language in the county.
Cllr Colin Hughes, who attended the Denbigh meeting, said the language was under threat but there are steps that could be taken to secure the future of Welsh in the county.
He said: “One thing is for sure, we need to draw a line in the sand here and now and all work hard to show how people can enjoy learning the language thus turning the tide of the decline.”
The number of Welsh speakers in the county fell by 1.8 percent between the census held in 2001 and the census of 2011.
Analysis of the recent census figures shows a worrying trend where the language is not being passed onto future generations.
In families where both parents are Welsh speakers the language is passed on to their children in 82 per cent of cases.
Where the family has one parent who is Welsh this number drops to 48 per cent.
There are many contributory factors to the decline in the language.
Migration out of the county is a major factor with up to one third of young Welsh speakers leaving Wales to pursue careers and further education.
The consultation has also heard that 46 per cent of children are denoted as being Welsh speakers in the census, when the reality is that between 22 and 25 per cent of children in the county can speak Welsh.
In migration is hurting the language further.
Only eight per cent of people moving into Denbighshire from outside of Wales pick up the language.
There are reasons to be optimistic that the decline can be reversed.
Cefin Campbell is an expert on the language who has been brought in by the council to help address the issue.
He said: “There is a real commitment by the authority to move to increase the number of Welsh speakers and expand its use. This includes use within the authority and within the community. There is a genuine commitment from the council and they want to build on the legacy of the Eisteddfod.”
Cllr Hughes added: “I was pleased that so many people turned up to the meeting and ideas flowed. I believe there is an onus on all public sector bodies to drive forward the use of Welsh in our everyday life. Coming to this as a learner I would be pleased to see Denbighshire offer their staff learning Welsh programme to councillors too. When it comes to recruitment I would like to see every job asking for an element of Welsh ability. In the business sector, I think learning basic Welsh for non Welsh speakers could give tradespeople an advantage as well as increasing Welsh usage in our society.”
Cefin Campbell is still accepting submissions, these can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.