In view of the Welsh Government’s commitment to meeting the target of 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050, Plaid Assembly Member for Arfon Siân Gwenllian has called on First Minister Carwyn Jones to make a statement about the importance of regional economic development in achieving this target.
Siân Gwenllian said that it is imperative that there is social activity and economic prosperity in Welsh-speaking areas if the Welsh language is to be strengthened, and she asked a question about the Government’s strategy for achieving this during First Minister Questions at the Senedd last week.
She called specifically on Carwyn Jones to give serious consideration to Caernarfon as the location for a new finance body that will be required to administer the new taxation powers that are coming to Wales, saying that it would be an ideal opportunity to create high quality jobs in a Welsh speaking area.
“Establishing the new finance body in a town like Caernarfon would be a huge boost for the Welsh language both locally and nationally,” said Siân Gwenllian,
“We desperately need high quality employment across north west Wales and having the finance body located there would show firm commitment from the Government to the economic and linguistic growth of those areas.”
Carwyn Jones responded that they have already consulted on their draft vision for achieving 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050 and that the finished document will discuss the relationship between the Welsh language and economic development.
Siân Gwenllian believes that there are many good reasons for bringing the finance body to Caernarfon, one being the half-empty building the Welsh Government already has in the town.
“Caernarfon would be an excellent home for this new development as the Government already has a suitable half-empty building ready and waiting.
Having the finance authority in Caernarfon would bring high quality jobs to a bilingual population, would boost the local economy and provide an opportunity to further develop skills in the area in order to satisfy the authority’s requirements as it grows.”
But while Carwyn Jones agrees that Caernarfon deserves consideration as a possible location for the new finance authority and that it is important to look beyond Cardiff when locating such developments, he suggested in his answer to Sian Gwenllian’s question in the Senedd that he isn’t fully confident that the necessary skills are available “in less urban areas”.
Said Siân Gwenllian, “This response by the First Minister is unsatisfactory, as the success of any new development is dependent on ambition and planning and it is important to note that there is a successful Business School in Bangor University that could work closely with local schools in order to develop the type of skills required if the finance authority was to come to Caernarfon.
These skills are available already to a large degree in both the public and private sectors, and with the right support we can develop new skills and make the best use of those already available.
This would lead to a boost for the economy as well as being a significant step forward along the road towards creating 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050.”