A STRATEGIC plan will be drawn up by Powys Council to drive the percentage of Welsh speakers up from 19 per cent to 33 per cent as part of the Welsh Government's aim to have 1m Welsh speakers by 2050.

Plaid Cymru group leader Cllr Elwyn Vaughan put forward a six point plan in front of the full councuil which he believes could help put Powys in the vanguard, and becoming the link between North and South Wales.

In a passionate speech - looking at the place in welsh history of Powys and quoting statistics showing the erosion of Welsh in many parts of Powys, Cllr Vaughan argued the case for the motion.

Cllr Vaughan, said: " I am passionate about Wales, my community, language and culture – because it is who I am. I am a product of this place. I am Welsh. "Welsh is my first language and brought up where all my neighbours spoke Welsh, community activities were in Welsh, social life in Welsh; English is a foreign language.

"The reality is the linguistic nature of Powys is complex, I’m personally well aware of the mixture of communities, of the language line in Montgomeryshire which most people are unaware of its existence, and of the complexities within families.

"I’m also well aware that there are many members of this authority where the language was spoken by a parent or grandparents, but they haven’t been fortunate to acquire it.

"As a result of those pressures we have seen widespread changes and decline in Powys."

"Here’s a snapshot in only the last twenty years:"

Community Council Area 1991 % (3+) 2001 % (3+) 2011 % (3+)

Llanerfyl 73 57 56

Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant 64 53 43

Glantwymyn 69 58 53

Llanfihangel 70 64 53

Penybontfawr 69 55 50

Carno 57 45 36

Llanbrynmair 69 53 48

"And if you look even further back the change can be epitomised by Llansilin, which in 1901 had 91.5 per-cent Welsh speakers yet by 2011 – only 26 per-cent.

These statistics highlight the lack of historical planning, understanding, of developing housing without reflecting local need - of having a haphazard attitude. The lesson is without a clear strategy, goals and ambitions this scenario will continue.

The reality is that Welsh is deeply engrained in the soil of this county.

I often think when in planning committee, reading about various applications and the reference to common land or locations with beautiful Welsh names.

- indeed if I may say so in passing, a much much older County than the Shires romantically loved by some;

- highlights the proud historical importance of this County to Wales, of its Welsh speaking tradition and contribution in the building of this country.

Cllr Vaughan continued: "What I’m trying to highlight is that the Welsh language is part of all of this county, a integral part of our heritage and of who we are, and that there are clear reasons why we saw a decrease over the last century.

"If we are to play a full part in the Wales of this century, and ensure that we turn the tide of history, then we need a clear plan, vision, and action points to achieve the aim by 2050.

"I’ve had enough of people in Powys complaining that everything goes South or North, I want Powys to be a integral part of the new Wales, in the same way as it has been an integral part of its history.

"I want Powys to be equally a part of the future, of a bilingual future, as a Celtic knot tying the rest of Wales together."

The motion was seconded by Cllr Bryn Davies, said: "We need to be paying more than lipservice to bilingualism, when I spoke before you last year, I remember a councillor whispering waste of money about the translation services.

"I know that at least 13 of my fellow councillors speak fluent Welsh and I urge them to just give it a go here.

"There's no point worrying about mistakes after all not everyone speaks the Queen's English."

Cllr Susan McNicholas - speaking in Welsh, formally backed the proposals on behalf of the Labour group; "We need the whole nation to take ownership," said Cllr McNicholas.

Education and Welsh language portfolio holder, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander, said: "I welcome this motion very much, and am happy to work with all members so that the targets are measurable and not just warm words.

The six point plan states: i)Recognises clearly the importance of the Welsh language as an integral part of the historical heritage of Powys

ii)Confirms that the language belongs to very part of the County

iii) Believes the language to be a matter of sustainability which intertwines with community, economic and social sustainability principles

iv) Believes the language is a skill and a key resources for future citizens

v)Is concerned at the reduction of Welsh speakers seen in the census of 2011 and accepts the need for comprehensive action to resist this trend,

vi)Thereby calls on the Council to draw up a strategic plan which will reflect these principles and which is consistent with the Welsh Language Act of 2011 and the Welsh Language Standards, will set clear action points so that Powys can contribute to the aim of ensuring a Million Welsh speakers.