The council’s Executive has agreed a draft Gaelic Language Plan for West Lothian Council, to be presented to  the Bòrd na Gaidhlig. The body was set up by the Scottish Government in 2005 to promote and facilitate the promotion of the use and understanding of the Gaelic language, Gaelic education and Gaelic culture.

To date Labour controlled West Lothian Council is one of only four councils – the others being Midlothian, East Lothian and Scottish Borders – who have yet to create a Gaelic plan.

Proposed outcomes of the plan include :

  • Raised awareness of the importance of the home in the acquisition and usage of Gaelic.
  • Increased support and opportunities for GLE (Gaelic Learner Education) at all levels.
  • Increased number of learners experiencing GLE.
  • Clear information on GME (Gaelic Medium Education) at all levels is easily available through West Lothian Council’s website.
  • Sustained or increased uptake of GME partnership provision with ongoing review of
    arrangements and capacity.
  • Positive evaluation of GME arrangements and co-ordinated planning in place.
  • Adults in West Lothian have access to Gaelic language provision where there is a
    demand for this.
  • Adults in West Lothian increase their Gaelic language skills where there is a demand for
    this.
  • Opportunities are developed for adults to engage in Gaelic learning.
  • The council can demonstrate inclusion of Gaelic language in its Public and Visual
    Art programmes.
  • Increased levels of participation in physical activity for Gaelic language speakers and in the number of community sports clubs whose plans identify approaches to overcome barriers for Gaelic language speakers.
  • The council will demonstrate inclusion of Gaelic language and ensure that the language is more visible in West Lothian.
  • The Council’s corporate guidelines will incorporate guidelines for the use of Gaelic language in the Council’s corporate identity when appropriate to do so.
  • Should any communications be received or requested in Gaelic, a Gaelic version of
    the council’s logo will be used on correspondence from the council (letterheads etc.).
  • Welcome signs at the main entry points into West Lothian will include Gaelic, demonstrating equal respect for Gaelic and English.
  • All new signage at council-owned visitor locations will include Gaelic, demonstrating equal respect for the Gaelic and English languages.
  • All customer services / contact centre staff will be aware of how to access support for
    communicating in Gaelic.
  • All press releases will be provided in Gaelic when requested by news/media outlet.
  • Gaelic books and printed material will be available where there is demand (libraries).
  • Bilingual advertisements for posts requiring Gaelic language will appear on myjobscotland and Gaelicteaching.com
  • The council will demonstrate inclusion of Gaelic language and ensure that the
    language is more visible in West Lothian. (Road services)

A six week public consultation ahead of the Council’s decision produced a healthy 127 responses.  The bulk were in favour of developing language classes and cultural events.  At the moment the only Gaelic provision is a self-funded morning group in Bathgate.

The Conservatives raised issue with the costs of implementation. Channelling Tory leader Carson Jacklaw who once famously tweeted outrage at Gaelic road signs costing £26m, Provost Tom Kerr raised concerns about the potential costs of changing signage. In fact, the proposals are for new and existing signs only, so there should be no additional costs.

Promising ‘signs’ then, that Gaelic is on the road to being protected in West Lothian. Time will tell if all the proposals are implemented in full by West Lothian Council, and the impact this has on the number of Gaelic speakers overall.

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