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