Cornwall Council pursuing Government over Cornish Language funding

Posted on: 20th May 2016

piran_kernow flag

Cornwall Council pursuing Government over Cornish Language funding but sadly probably in English!! Below is a press release issued by the Council.

Cornwall Council Leader John Pollard has written formally to James Wharton, the Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse, to express his concern over the decision to cut all funding for the Cornish Language and has called for a special meeting to agree a funding package which is acceptable to both Cornwall and the Government.

The Government has provided up to £150,000 a year to support the Cornish language since it was recognised under the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages in 2003. This grant has been used to support the development of the language, including funding a range of educational activities.

At the end of last year the Council was asked by the Government to submit a bid for funding for the current financial year. This bid was supported by MPs George Eustice and Sarah Newton, as well as Cornish Members of the House of Lords , Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP.

However, in a letter sent to Mr Pollard on 20 April, the Minister confirmed that the Government would not be providing any further funding to support the development of the Cornish language -despite the recognition of the Cornish people as a national minority in April 2014.  Mr Wharton suggested that the funding should instead be provided by the Council.

The decision has disappointed many individuals, communities, businesses and Councillors, both in and outside Cornwall, with a petition calling for funding to be instated on the Government’s website signed by around 7,000 people, and an Early Day Motion put forward by members of the SNP asking for funding of Cornwall’s “historical cultural jewel” to be reinstated supported by 42 MP’s, including members of Plaid Cymru, the SDLP , Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.

Following the letter from the Minister Mr Pollard convened a meeting of interested parties to discuss what action could be taken to challenge the decision by the Government. 

The meeting, which was attended by representatives of the Gorsedh, the Chamber of Commerce and Visit Cornwall, as well as language experts from the Akademi Kernewek , Mark Trevethan, the Council’s Cornish Language Lead and Julian German, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Culture, also considered how to engage with local residents to promote the understanding of the importance of the Cornish language as part of Cornwall’s culture and distinctiveness.

Mr Pollard has now written back to the Minister expressing the concerns felt by the Council and communities and businesses in Cornwall at the decision to cut funding for the Cornish Language and, particularly, the suggestion that this is connected with the Cornwall Devolution Deal.

Explaining that funding for the Cornish Language had originally been included in the Devolution Deal before being removed by Ministers at the last moment, Mr Pollard said “ At the time I was reassured that this was a technical matter and that another funding route would be identified. I am, therefore, particularly surprised that your letter refers to the Devolution Deal as a reason why funding has been cut.”

 “Far from being a ‘local’ matter the scope of the Charter for Regional and Minority languages extends its protections to the specified languages at all levels right across the UK.  Kernewek is, in historical and cultural terms, a living and fundamental element of British culture, making it a matter of cross-UK importance, not merely a ‘local’ issue”.

 Adding that the Council was seeking an explanation of why its bid for funding had failed, as well as details of how the Government was now planning to fulfil its legal commitments under the Framework Convention for National Minorities and the Charter for Regional and Monitory Languages, Mr Pollard called for the Government to meet with the authority to try and construct a new funding package.