Consideration was given to the Ceredigion Language Strategy Achievement Report 2018-23. The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 established a legal framework to impose duties on certain organisations, including Ceredigion County Council to comply with standards in relation to the Welsh language.
• Welsh Language Standard 145 places a duty on the County Council to develop and publish a 5-year strategy that explains how the Council intends to promote the Welsh language and facilitate the use of Welsh within the wider area.
• Welsh Language Standard 146 places the duty to assess the extent to which the Council has followed that strategy and met its set target.
The current Strategy period ends in 2023 and the achievement report had been prepared, with the input of partners.
The report was presented in two parts:
• A Review Welsh Language Strategy Report: which reported on methods of operating as well as the methods of measuring outcomes
• Achievement Report Welsh Language Strategy: which reports on all activities organised to promote the use of the Welsh language (Appendix 1)
The principal aim of Ceredigion's Welsh Language Strategy 2018-23 was to expand the use of the Welsh language in all aspects of life in the county. The strategy identified three strategic areas:
• Increase the language skills of the people of Ceredigion
• Maintain and increase opportunities to use the Welsh language in Ceredigion in a range of contexts
• Create the social conditions that enable the Welsh language to thrive in Ceredigion
A summary of the main achievements of implementing the Language Strategy was provided. It was acknowledged that Covid-19 had impacted much of the work as engagement was one of the main aims.
The Strategy also set a target to increase the number of Welsh speakers in Ceredigion from 47.5% to 48.5%, an increase of around 1,500 by 2023. Since the 2011 Census, results from the 2021 Census reported a decrease of 3,286 people (2%) who declared themselves as able to speak Welsh. Despite an overall decrease, the proportion of adults between 16-44 years old able to speak Welsh had increased by 2.2% by 2021. It must be noted that care was required when interpreting the Census data as the picture was very complex. Other surveys including the Annual Population Survey indicated that the percentage of Welsh speakers in Ceredigion had increased. The Welsh Government was currently carrying out a survey on the different data that existed for measuring the number of Welsh speakers and trying to define the inconsistency in the data.
In reviewing the attainment of the Welsh Language Strategy, it was important to recognise that language planning was a long-term process and developing initiatives to increase the use of Welsh took time to foster, however, the Council felt confident that the Language Strategy had laid the right foundations for progressing to the next 5-year period. A workshop was held on 20 March 2023 to discuss the new Welsh Language Strategy and was well attended by members of the Bilingual Futures Forum.
The following main points were raised during discussions:
• Following approval by Scrutiny and Cabinet, a consultation process would commence soon around changing the language medium in the Foundation Phase at Comins Coch, Llwyn yr Eos, St Padarn’s, Plascrug and Cei Newydd School.
• Despite Welsh Government’s Helo Blod Project ending in April 2022, it continued to provide a free translation service of up to 500 words per month for businesses and community organisations. The Welsh Language Commissioner are now focusing their efforts on ‘The Welsh Offer Scheme’ to support businesses to make more use of Welsh within their business.
• There is a focus in the Arfor programme on encouraging young people to remain and succeed locally. There are work opportunities in Ceredigion, but greater promotion is needed to ensure people are confident enough to apply for the roles. It was noted that there were many projects underway with the Growth and Enterprise team.
• Given that the Urdd and the Young Farmers’ Clubs were two strong youth organisations in Ceredigion, it was unfortunate that the Urdd National Eisteddfod and the Young Farmers’ Clubs Rally clashed.
Following questions from the floor, it was AGREED to receive the report, and recommend submitting the Report to Cabinet for approval, and for information at the Ceredigion Public Services Board meeting.