Denbighshire County Council's language strategy branded "pathetic"


Josh Morris

Denbighshire Council's measures include ensuring all new members of staff can speak a basic level of Welsh. 

The proportion of Welsh speakers in the county declined by 1.8% in the 10 years to 2011.

Aaron Wynne Davies, chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith in the North East, said: “The council’s five year strategy is very uninspiring and lacks any real initiatives to reach its pathetic aim to increase Welsh speakers by 0.5% by 2022.

“An increase of 0.5% would mean 100 more Welsh speakers in Denbighshire in the next five years - a shameful and disappointing figure.

“Much of the strategy just lists what the council is already doing, rather than stating new creative ways the council could start tackling the declining numbers of Welsh speakers, and what they could do to increase them.”

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting of the cabinet, Cllr Hugh Evans said: “If the current trend continues there will be 3,000 fewer Welsh speakers in our county by the time of the next census, that's why we've put a target in that we can achieve in real terms.”

He added that he was not sure the measures went far enough and that Denbighshire would be looking to adopt successful ideas from Anglesey and Gwynedd.

"There's been a 1.8% decrease in the number of Welsh speakers in the county between the 2001 and 2011 censuses.

“We've set this target of a 0.5% increase and it's a safe target but we need to continue with the strategy as we have it.

“If I'm honest, I don't know if the measures go far enough in Denbighshire, our officers have seen if we can pick up ideas from Anglesey and Gwynedd to push expectations.”

Cllr Eryl Williams added: “I was always told that something isn't good enough if you can do better.

“I know why we need a target of 0.5% - that's and more than in the last 20 years. But there are things in the country that work - like the Naitonal Eisteddfod and the Urdd.

“We need to pull in education as well. We teach our children in Welsh, but once they go out to work we lose them to colleges and to workplaces. Welsh Government's million Welsh speakers target is very challenging but we need to tie it together

“We also need to sustain and extend the number of Welsh speakers in the south of the county outside of schools as if they don't use it it's not a living language.”

As part of the strategy all new council staff will be required to speak some Welsh after Denbighshire's Cabinet approved the new plan.

From September this year all new staff will be required to have Level 1 basic skills in Welsh with all current staff being given e-learning modules on the Welsh language by December.

Welsh language measures will also be extended to the council's contractors with all contracts “adhered to in terms of the requirements of the Welsh Language Standards” with the council also offering “Siarad Cymraeg” badges to businesses to encourage the use of Welsh in the workplace.

See full story in the Free Press

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