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Calls to extend £2m fund to boost Welsh speaking heartlands

01 Feb 2021 3 minutes Read
Aberdaron. Picture by Llywelyn2000 (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter

The Welsh Government has been urged to extend a £2m fund designed to bolster rural economies in Welsh speaking heartlands.

Established in 2019, the scheme emerged from a Labour/Plaid Cymru budget deal in the Senedd and was designed to promote job creation across Anglesey, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

Under the scheme, Gwynedd Council acted as the lead body for the four counties with each receiving around £466,000 in funding. The purpose of the money is to develop the economy and create jobs in a bid to support the Welsh language in specific communities.

But with the two year pilot and subsequent funding set to dry up in March 2021, the Welsh Government has been urged to consider extending or setting up a similar scheme to allow further progress in the field.

Meeting on Thursday, Gwynedd Council’s Language Committee agreed to write to ministers. urging them to continue with the scheme or set up a similar one.

Cllr Alwyn Gruffydd said, “Is there anything we can do to ensure an ‘Arfor 2’? “It’s important that we continue or else we could lose momentum, there’s certainy room to press the Welsh Government if the wish to realise 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050.”

‘Political’

Cllr Cai Larsen added that the fate of any similar scheme may end up being a “political matter” and reliant on the result of May’s scheduled election.

In response, a Welsh Government spokesperson said, “The Arfor programme is co-ordinated by Gwynedd Council and delivered in the four local authorities of Ynys Mon, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

“The two year programme is due to be completed in March 2021 and will include an evaluation of the programme.”

Arfon MS, Sian Gwenllian, added: “Plaid Cymru ensured £2M from Welsh Gov for the Arfor project in west Wales and is very pleased that Gwynedd Council has been able to support businesses and communities with its share of that money.
“I fully support having a similar project, supported by further investment in future.
“If we had a Plaid Government in Wales after the May Senedd Election, giving full support to communities in the west of Wales, including Gwynedd through an ambitious Arfor programme would be an absolute priority.”
Ynys Mon MS Rhun ap Iorwerth said, “It’s important that this fund is renewed and I have received some very positive feedback from companies that are thankful for the support received thanks to Arfor.
“It’s vital that every help is available for businesses established and wish to grow within these communities where Welsh is the community language.”

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