Flintshire Council has increased its target to boost the number of Welsh speakers in Flintshire after being told it needed to be more ambitious.
A consultation was recently held in which intentions were set out to increase the number of people who can speak the language in the county by around 650 to 20,000.
That number has now been lifted to a rise of approximately 2,500 over the next five years after some people who responded said the outlined goal was not challenging enough.
Flintshire Council said the majority of responses (85 per cent) were supportive of the aims of its Welsh Language Promotion Strategy, which takes into account an increase in children attending Welsh medium education.
However, some English speakers said they believed they could be discriminated against because of the target.
In response, the council’s chief executive said any events to promote the language would be ‘inclusive’ for everyone, regardless of whether or not they speak Welsh.
In a report, Colin Everett said: “The Welsh Language Promotion Strategy has been revised following consultation and aims to support an increase of the current level of Welsh speakers from 19,343 (13.2%) within the county to 21,891 (15%) during this period.
“This takes into account the increase in children attending Welsh medium education as identified in the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan, as well as an increase in the number of adults learning Welsh.
“A total of 157 people responded to the consultation on the strategy, which was open to both employees and the public.
“Analysis of the responses show that the feedback was mostly positive, but there were some differing views.”
He added: “Events and activities to promote Welsh culture will encourage a “sense of belonging” and inclusion whether we speak Welsh or not.
“HR are reviewing opportunities to support people appointed to posts which are designated Welsh essential.”
The strategy sets out a number of objectives including increasing the range of Welsh medium childcare in the county, boosting the number of pupils being taught in Welsh and trialling new initiatives with higher education establishments.
It also proposes to develop a sense of pride in the language among both Welsh and non-Welsh speakers and to encourage businesses to develop bilingual services.
It forms part of the Welsh Government’s vision to increase the number of Welsh speakers in the country to one million by 2050.
Cllr Billy Mullin (Lab), Flintshire Council’s cabinet member for corporate management, said: “Flintshire County Council is committed to this five year Welsh Language Promotion Strategy.
“We already have a policy for Welsh in the workplace to ensure that we raise the profile of the Welsh language to help increase the number of Welsh speakers in the county and for opportunities for employees to use Welsh at work.
“Implementing this strategy will support us in developing bilingual services.
“It also sends a clear message, internally and externally, that the Welsh language is valued and is an asset in employment.”
The council’s ruling cabinet will be asked to agree the strategy at a meeting next week.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).