Reaction to the Census

POSTIVE ACTION NEEDED

The 2011 Census results prove the need for positive action in favour of the Welsh language. That is the message from Dyfodol i’r Iaith on the day the results are published.

Positive action according to the linguistic needs of various areas is now essential says Bethan Jones Parry, President of Dyfodol i’r Iaith. The organisation says that the Welsh Government must prioritise methods of promoting the language in the next ten years.

Bethan Jones Parry added, “We welcome the increase in the numbers of Welsh speakers in the areas where there are traditionally fewer Welsh speakers. This proves that Welsh medium education has had a significant impact and that there is a general desire to see the Welsh as a living language in society once again.”

In these areas that traditionally have had fewer Welsh speakers there is a need for more opportunities for new speakers to use the Welsh language.  The organisation says that local authorities must provide leisure and sports facilities in Welsh for young people. The increase in the number of speakers also proves that we need to see Welsh Centres established to be a focus for Welsh activities, to teach the language and for Welsh entertainment. This will create new Welsh communities.

In the Welsh heartlands the priorities are tackling the economy, housing, the planning process and the language of public administration. Bethan Jones Parry says, “The weakness of the language in the heartlands compared with ten years ago reflects the high population shift in these areas as well as economic weakness.”

“We welcome the Welsh Government’s emphasis in its recent White Paper on securing sustainable communities and supporting Wales’ cultural heritage. As with many other areas of Europe which have their traditional languages and culture, many of the areas where the Welsh is strongest have seen substantial shifts in population because of the lack of economic opportunities locally and the lack of economic balance in general. We call for policies that will promote economic, cultural and linguistic sustainability”

“Consideration should be given to creating growth areas in towns in West and North Wales. Government departments and public bodies that work in Welsh need to be moved. This would be a way of attracting a key number of Welsh speakers into the economy.”

“Economic factors must be at the heart of the planning process and we also need to urgently review the unreasonably high housing targets that the Government imposed on local authorities,” said Ms Jones Parry. “Building thousands of unnecessary homes destroys Welsh communities and undermines the Government’s own Welsh language strategy. Each department within the Welsh Government must look at the impact of its policies on the Welsh language.”

“These policies must give priority to young local people and ensure that these areas can become attractive to them. The lack of direction at present has created communities that are ageing and others that are burdened with empty houses, second homes or overspill from the cities..”

“It is a moral duty of the Welsh Government to accept responsibility for reviving Welsh-speaking communities and to create Welsh communities in areas where there are fewer Welsh speakers.”

“Now is not the time to shed tears over any losses. We must move forward with confidence and put positive plans into action so that the Welsh language has bright future across the country.”

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