Cambridgeshire

Council may offer Lithuanian lessons for Fenland residents

Wisbech Image copyright Dave Hitchborne/Geograph
Image caption Classes are proposed for English speakers from Wisbech and other Fenland towns

A council is proposing to offer Lithuanian language classes for people living in parts of Cambridgeshire.

Lithuanian nationals make up "about 10%" of the Fenland population, where the conversational classes are being considered, the county council said.

Conservative Steve Tierney, who represents Wisbech West, said it would "help people understand one another".

The council said the cost of about £1,200 would be met by funding applications made by community groups.

"Wisbech has quite a high population of people who've come from Eastern Europe and the highest population is Lithuanian people," Mr Tierney said.

The idea for the classes for "English speakers" is to "build better links with Lithuanian residents".

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Mr Tierney said there would be a "small fee - maybe £3 a session with some concessions" for those attending.

Leader of the UKIP group on Huntingdonshire District Council, Pete Reeve, said the classes were "essentially a good, well-meaning project with all the right intentions".

However, he said if the county council was going to end up funding it, it would be "counter-productive" and "cause divisions" with residents currently struggling to get housing or disability benefits if money were to be spent on a project "not relevant" to them.

The council estimates the budget for the classes to be around £1,200, which they said would "come from external funding applications submitted by these local community groups".

There were about 1,800 Lithuanian nationals living in the Fenland area out of a population of about 95,000, according to the 2011 Census.

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