Proposals to cut free school transport to Welsh-medium schools in Flintshire have been branded “hugely damaging” by a Plaid Cymru AM.
The proposals, to be discussed by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, would be in breach of the council’s own policy.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said: “The proposals suggest that free transport to Welsh-medium schools could be stopped to save money. While we all understand the financial constraints on councils, this proposal would be hugely damaging for the future of the Welsh language in Flintshire.
“Welsh-medium schools have larger catchment areas and it’s therefore more important for them to have good transport for pupils. Parents are already making a big commitment to send their children to these schools and this will inevitably mean fewer pupils being able to attend. Parents have described it as a death knell for Welsh-medium education in the county and I fear they could be right.
“The council’s own transport policy is quite clear in identifying the right to free transport to Welsh-medium schools.
“Flintshire was once a pioneer in Welsh-medium education – it was here that the first-ever Welsh-medium secondary school was opened back in the 1950s. However, in recent years this council has been treading water and has not seen the growth in this sector that neighbouring counties have seen. There seems to be a lack of leadership and commitment behind this and it’s incredible that this hugely damaging proposal is even coming before the council’s cabinet.
“Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise when we consider the transport review was carried out by a Manchester-based consultant but I very much hope that the cabinet is aware of the sensitivities of this and bins these proposals.
“I would expect the Welsh Government to show a clearer lead on this matter. They keep saying they want one million Welsh speakers by 2050 but the reality is that the language is static or declining in counties such as Flintshire. Moves like this will undermine the language and should be binned.”