Campaigners have criticised the Leader of Cardiff Council for breaking a promise to open a Welsh-medium school as part of a large housing development in the city.
In a tweet in September last year, the Councillor Huw Thomas said "to be clear - Welsh medium schools will be a central part of the Plasdŵr development." However, at the end of last week, the cabinet of Cardiff Council decided to start consultation on a proposal to establish a new bilingual primary school which would include an English-medium stream.
The Plasdŵr development in the north-west of the city means building up to seven thousand houses over the next seven years. These areas of Cardiff - Creigiau, St Fagans and Pentyrch - have some of the highest percentages of Welsh speakers in the capital city, with almost a quarter of the population speaking Welsh.
Mabli Siriol from campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith said:
"A Welsh-medium school, not a bilingual school, is what we need here if the Council is serious about ensuring that we reach a million speakers. Cardiff must ensure a dramatic and quick increase in the number of pupils who attend a Welsh-medium school in order to ensure the target is reached. After all, the Leader of the Council said that Welsh-medium schools would be a central part of the new development. Indeed, we were led to understand that the first school would be a Welsh-medium one. What has changed? Has the Leader made a U-turn in order to please reactionary, anti-Welsh language voices in his cabinet?"
“Opening a brand new school for this housing development offers a golden opportunity to quickly increase the provision of Welsh. By not using the capital that comes with the huge housing development to open a specifically Welsh-medium school, the council is holding back the growth of the Welsh language in the area and the aspirations of the vast majority of people of the area to revive the language and see all of our young people becoming fluent speakers. At the moment, according to the council’s own statistics there are more reception-age children who want a place in a Welsh-medium school than there are places for them, but there are more than enough places in English-medium schools, so what’s the sense in opening an English-medium stream?”