The main item on the agenda at yesterday's meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council was the report and recommendations of the Census Working Group on the Welsh Language
The report (available here in English and here in Welsh) contains 70 recommendations, some with far-reaching and radical consequences. It took almost a year to produce, considered a wide range of different evidence, and it is fair to say that the final result took even the most hard-bitten cynics by surprise.
Cllr Cefin Campbell (Llanfihangel Aberbythych, Plaid) who chaired the group made it clear from the outset that he did not want the language to become a political football, and he succeeded in building consensus across the various political groups on the council to back a plan which represents the best and probably last hope of turning the tide against the language in Carmarthenshire.
The result was that the council showed that whatever the political differences, the Welsh language can be a bridge to bring people together. Whether you speak Welsh or not, the language is a defining part of what it means to be Welsh, and there were notable contributions to the debate from Winston Lemon and Siân Caiach, neither of whom can speak Welsh.
Two of the most important parts of the report deal with education and the internal administration of the council itself.
The aim of the report, which was adopted by the council, is to extend Welsh-medium education so that eventually every child in the county is given the chance to become bilingual. Cefin Campbell emphasised that an essential part of this process would be a marketing to campaign to explain the benefits of bilingualism to parents, and the process will be subject to consultation.
An important aspect of the report is that it recognises that the teaching of Welsh as a second language does not work. This was also the conclusion of a report commissioned by the Welsh Government (here) which came out back in 2012.
Siân Caiach said that her daughter had achieved an A* in Welsh as a second language but was unable to speak Welsh. Children were merely being taught how to pass an exam.
A second long-term aim of the report is to make Welsh the working language of the council, as is already the case in Gwynedd.
Some departments within the council already have high proportions of Welsh speakers, and the vision is for transition to take place over time, with parts of the council achieving the change sooner rather than later.
One of the key insights of the report is that while there has been growth in the numbers of children able to speak Welsh in the county, the numbers drop sharply as people move into their 20s and 30s as young people leave Carmarthenshire and Wales to go and find work.
The lack of well-paid jobs for young people is, of course, not just damaging to the Welsh language but also has a huge impact on the social fabric of the county.
As the largest employer in Carmarthenshire, the council has all too often resorted to importing middle and senior managers as local young people head in the opposite direction.
Jobs are advertised stipulating that an ability to communicate in Welsh is essential, only for that condition to be swept aside by a get-out clause which says that successful applicants will be sent on a course to learn the language.
As is all too evident, this requirement has not been taken seriously, and the bar has been set so low that we have ended up with senior officers who by no stretch of the imagination are capable of expressing themselves in Welsh.
At one recent council meeting councillors were treated to a Powerpoint presentation from someone with a heavy London accent whose Welsh consisted of being able to say "Bohre da porb" (Bore da pawb), while the Chief Executive has failed to learn the language despite promising to do so when he was appointed back in 2001.
That it can be done and done well was demonstrated yesterday by Chris Burns, the jovial Assistant Chief Executive, who delivered a brief Powerpoint presentation in confident and clear Welsh.
Speaker after speaker welcomed the report and noted the spirit of cooperation across the floor which had brought about the report, but just as in a Brothers Grimm story there were some bad fairies lurking in the wings.
Meryl Gravell was worried that the council might send out a message to investors that the council was no longer open for business, and that making Welsh the working language of the council would mean that we could no longer recruit the best people (possibly a reference to Mark James).
Pam Palmer was also worried about the staff. Would not being able to speak Welsh mean that avenues to promotion were blocked? As for the brain drain of young people from the county, surely the parents were to blame.
Meryl's contribution seemed to bear out what many have suspected for a long time - that she has very little confidence in the ability of Carmarthenshire or the rest of Wales to produce talented young people capable of running a council department.
There are quite a number of smaller countries than Wales. Do Iceland (population 320,000), Estonia (1.3 million), Latvia (2 million) or Luxembourg (520,000) recruit local authority managers from outside their borders?
If you want to be a civil servant in the Basque Country (population 2.2 million), you have to pass tough language exams to qualify.
Strangely Meryl's contribution received a nervous flutter of applause from the Labour benches.
But let's end on a positive note.
One of the most remarkable and encouraging contributions came from council leader Kevin Madge. Kevin has barely uttered a single word in Welsh in the council chamber, but yesterday he broke out into fluent and natural Welsh and sounded a hundred times better than he does when speaking English.
He also set an example which others should follow.
The First Minister was watching what was happening in Carmarthenshire with interest, he said, and he hoped to invite Carwyn down to see for himself. Kevin Madge noted that the changes outlined in the report would be challenging and would need additional support from the Welsh Government.
Da iawn Kev.
As the meeting drew to a close Cneifiwr emerged from the dank recesses of County Hall, blinking in the spring sunshine. Parked outside the door was a large news transit van covered in colouful pictures and the logo "Visit Carmarthenshire". Sadly not a word of Welsh to be seen.