Welsh ‘should be used in cor­ri­dors of power’

Llanelli Star - - NEWS - Gareth Williams

AT least three other coun­cils in Wales – in­clud­ing Car­marthen­shire – should fol­low the lead of Gwynedd in us­ing Welsh as their of­fi­cial lan­guage of ad­min­is­tra­tion.

That is the view of a pres­sure group who used last week’s Na­tional Eisteddfod to state their aim of the lan­guage be­ing given more promi­nence within town halls from Mon­mouthshire to Anglesey.

Dy­fodol i’r Iaith are call­ing for at least three other au­thor­i­ties, namely Anglesey, Car­marthen­shire and Ceredi­gion, to use more Welsh within the cor­ri­dors of power – a move they be­lieve would “place real eco­nomic worth” in the lan­guage. How­ever, they are also call­ing on other au­thor­i­ties where the lan­guage is not as strong, to pro­mote Welsh as a work­ing lan­guage and em­pha­sise it as a valu­able skill.

The leader of Gwynedd Coun­cil, speak­ing dur­ing a dis­cus­sion on the Na­tional Eisteddfod Maes, said that Gwynedd was “lead­ing the way” in its use of Welsh - which is al­ready the main in­ter­nal lan­guage.

Coun­cil­lor Dyfrig Sien­cyn added that he and his fel­low coun­cil­lors were in a “for­tu­nate po­si­tion”, hav­ing in­her­ited a strong Welsh ethos from the old Gwynedd Coun­cil which ex­isted be­fore the last lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­or­gan­i­sa­tion in 1996.

“We started with some­what of a clean slate, but back then the trans­la­tors were churning ap­prox­i­mately 80% of ma­te­rial from English to Welsh, whereas now they are hav­ing to trans­late al­most no doc­u­ments at all into Welsh as the of­fi­cers are us­ing the lan­guage al­most ex­clu­sively,” said Mr Sien­cyn.

“That goes to show how the in­ter­nal ad­min­is­tra­tion has been nor­malised. It’s al­most un­heard of for an of­fi­cer to pub­lish an in­ter­nal re­port in English.”

He added that, while some mem­bers of staff were lack­ing in con­fi­dence in re­gards to their Welsh lan­guage abil­i­ties, they were of­fered train­ing to im­prove their oral and writ­ten skills.

Speak­ing dur­ing the week-long cul­tural fes­ti­val, which is be­ing held in Llan­r­wst, Mr Sien­cyn said: “We have ap­prox­i­mately 6,000 staff but, if the work­force is used to us­ing the Welsh lan­guage con­fi­dently, that can in­te­grate into wider so­ci­ety and nor­malise its use on a wider ba­sis.

“Over 90% of our pri­mary school pupils are flu­ent Welsh speak­ers, but the chal­lenge in some ar­eas is to en­cour­age them to con­tinue us­ing it on a so­cial ba­sis af­ter mov­ing on to se­condary school.”

Neigh­bour­ing Anglesey Coun­cil has al­ready com­mit­ted to grad­u­ally in­tro­duc­ing Welsh as the main in­ter­nal lan­guage on a depart­ment by depart­ment ba­sis, while con­tin­u­ing to main­tain a bilin­gual pres­ence when deal­ing with the pub­lic.

Ceredi­gion has also come un­der pres­sure by lan­guage groups to fol­low a sim­i­lar path, but a lead­ing Car­marthen­shire coun­cil­lor con­firmed that they were fol­low­ing Gwynedd and Anglesey’s lead.

“If we take Gwynedd as a lead, it’s fair to say that we and other coun­cils are try­ing to catch up,” said coun­cil­lor Peter Hughes-Grif­fiths, adding that both “po­lit­i­cal power and to pos­sess the will to make changes” were nec­es­sary in or­der to kick-start any change.

He noted fur­ther pos­i­tive moves in the re­cent ap­point­ment of a Welsh­s­peak­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive, Wendy Wal­ters, with a re­cent au­dit re­veal­ing that al­most half of staff were able to com­mu­ni­cate in the lan­guage.

“Our next task will be to as­sess if any de­part­ments are ready to ad­min­is­trate in­ter­nally in the Welsh lan­guage,” added the Plaid Cymru coun­cil­lor.

“It hap­pens to a large de­gree in some al­ready, of course, but the next step will be to de­cide if any are ready for this to be­come of­fi­cial. At the end of the day, with­out get­ting too po­lit­i­cal, if we won’t do this then no-one will.”

Coun­cil­lor Peter Hughes-Grif­fiths speak­ing dur­ing a dis­cus­sion at the Eisteddfod aimed to­wards strength­en­ing the use of Welsh within lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.