Language Body Changes but Chief Stays the Same; DISQUIET AS LABOUR PARTY MEMBER TAKES UP NEW ROLE

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Byline: MATT WITHERS

QUESTIONS were raised over the appointment of the first Welsh Language Commissioner yesterday as Meri Huws, the chairman of the Welsh Language Board, was unveiled as the successful candidate.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said Ms Huws, pro-vice chancellor at the University of Wales Trinity St David, would act as a champion for the Welsh language in the pounds 95,000-a-year role.

But there were concerns from both Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives over the appointment of Labour Party member Ms Huws.

Plaid AM Bethan Jenkins said her party would have preferred "a fresh face with new ideas" in the role while Tory leader Andrew RT Davies questioned the appointment being made by the Government rather than the Assembly, warning it could make the new Commissioner "a political football".

The post has been introduced to help ensure services are delivered to the public in Welsh. The Welsh Language Board is being abolished and its functions are being transferred to the new Commissioner.

The new Commissioner will focus on the new regulatory system, including setting standards and establishing an enforcement regime.

Announcing her appointment, Mr Jones said: "[Meri Huws] brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to this new role and will be an excellent champion for the Welsh language.

"This important new post will be critical to delivering the Welsh Government's vision of a thriving and vibrant Welsh language."

In a statement, Ms Huws said she wanted to build "on the good work that has been done by the Welsh Language Board and others to strengthen the Welsh language and ensure that it continues to thrive".

Bethan Jenkins AM said she was disappointed that someone from outside the Welsh Language Board establishment had not been appointed to the role.

Emphasising that it was "not a personal attack on the appointee", she said: "The appointment team responsible for this appointment should have made a clear break between what happened in the Welsh Language Board and what's going to happen within the Commissioner's unit. …