7,000 N.Wales drop in fluent Welsh speakers; BUT MASSIVE INCREASE ACROSS REGION IN NUMBER WITH GRASP OF LANGUAGE.
Byline: RACHEL FLINT Welsh Affairs Correspondent firstname.lastname@example.org
THE number of fluent Welsh speakers in North Wales has fallen by more than 7,000 over the last decade, a new survey reveals.
Gwynedd and Anglesey boast some of the largest concentrations of Welsh speakers in Wales but the number of fluent users has plummeted in both areas.
Anglesey saw the largest drop of fluent speakers of any area in Wales with a 2,600 fall and a 9% slump in those using their native tongue every day.
Numbers of fluent Welsh speakers tumbled across the region to 135,200 in 2013-15, while numbers actually slightly increased across Wales.
Results of the latest Welsh Language Use Survey (2013-15) also showed only Flintshire bucked the regional trend with fluency increasing by 1,800 people since the last study in 2004-6. More people now consider themselves fluent Welsh speakers in Cardiff than in Conwy - with the capital having 21,800 in 2013-15 while Conwy had just 17,200.
The decline is down to the number of fluent speakers falling in Conwy from 19,400 since 2004-6. But the number of Welsh speakers - who don't consider themselves fluent - rose in the region by a staggering 35,400 over the same period.
This means an impressive 107,700 people speak the language in North Wales.
Wrexham enjoyed the biggest increase in the number of Welsh speakers with a 10,500 since the last survey in 2006. The rise brings the total number of speakers to 21,400.
First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, said: "This is a crucial time for the language and, as a government, we remain determined to address the challenges it faces, ensuring that the language has a thriving and secure future across Wales. We must not become complacent."
Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, said: "The findings of the survey are useful in offering a better understanding of how well people in Wales can speak Welsh, how often, when and with whom they use the language.
"This information enriches our understanding of the position of the Welsh language and the use of available Welsh language services."