Council to take ‘pragmatic approach’ to develop Gaelic language

West Lothian Council has approved a Gaelic Language Plan.

Council to take ‘pragmatic approach’ to develop Gaelic language iStock

West Lothian Council has approved a Gaelic Language Plan.

But it will be a while before you see signs reading Failte gu Lodainn an lar, or Welcome to West Lothian, on county boundaries.

Changes approved mean the council will only have to add a Gaelic translation when it updates or renews its corporate logo.

The county has a population of 181,000. The 2011 census recorded that 667 people were able to speak Gaelic – 0.4% of the population compared to 1.1% across Scotland.

It also recorded 1179 residents with “any Gaelic skill” (0.7% of the population) compared to the Scottish average of 1.7%.

A survey of 947 members of West Lothian Council staff in April 2019 revealed that 842 did not understand any Gaelic, although two learners were identified.

Another 437 said they’d like to learn. There are only five staff members who can speak Gaelic fluently.

The council will have to develop Gaelic in schools, adopting a “pragmatic” approach.  

West Lothian Council is one of the last local authorities in Scotland to approve a plan.

Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: “It’s a statutory requirement to have a plan in place.

“The actions contained in the plan recognise that the West Lothian Council area has not been one of Scotland’s traditional Gaelic speaking areas, nor has a large number of people who speak Gaelic today.

“The plan is therefore proposing that the council will pursue a pragmatic approach to help develop the Gaelic language.

“The actions have therefore focused on an incremental approach to the introduction of responses to customers in Gaelic, where this is appropriate, provide training to staff who require Gaelic language in order to undertake their duties and to enhance and develop the use of Gaelic language through education in schools.”

By local democracy reporter Stuart Sommerville