We had an useful meeting with Alun Davies and his officials on Friday morning, January 31st. Here are the matters we discussed and some of the responses received:
It was agreed that more attention should be given to the Welsh language in the context of the community.
Matters including in-migration, housing planning, education, teaching Welsh to adults, the language on the high street and within work were all given attention.
Welsh Language Agency
The Government have £2 million to spend this year, but there is no agreement for next year. A White Paper will be published for the new Bill / Welsh Language Measure and this will provide an opportunity to to establish a Welsh Language Agency. Alun Davies favoured an arms’-length Agency. If this years’ expenditure is successful, it is hoped that this will lead to a stable Agency, with the possibility of it growing into a wider-reaching body which can bridge the work of the different Government departments. An announcement on the Bill is expected before Christmas, following the consultation on the White Paper.
Our points on promoting the language were welcomed, and can be worked upon this year:
- Promoting Welsh language education
- Promoting the Welsh language with prospective parents
- Expanding the development of Welsh Language Centres to include cafes / pubs in smaller towns and villages
- Rewarding organisations across all sectors for their use of the language
- An ongoing promotion campaign with shops, cafes and pubs, encouraging them to display signage that customers are welcome to use the Welsh language
- A cost-effective translation service
Government officials said that the Welsh Government is currently working with the Language Commissioner and Mudiadau Iaith on a pilot scheme for promoting the language within small businesses.
There was an understanding of the need to consider the language in relation to individual housing developments even though they might already be part of Local Development Plans.
Government officials said that they hoped that ongoing work with Horizon (Wylfa) would yield a language impact assessment methodology, that could be used throughout Wales. Dyfodol have already been in touch with Lesley Griffiths, Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs regarding TAN 20, and we will be requesting an update, as soon as this work is completed.
It was agreed that local authorities’ Schemes were vague, and that the Government need to review the majority of them, and then discuss their contents with the Councils. It was agreed that it was not useful to set a target to increase the number of 7 year-olds in Welsh education within 3 years, as these children will already be within the system. The Minister was anxious to see stronger Schemes.
The Government Officials said that they expected an improvement in the Welsh language skills of pupils in English-medium schools following the introduction of the continuum . We are however doubtful that this will be significantly successful.