GAELIC-speaking teddy bears would be provided to all nurseries and libraries in Aberdeenshire as part of new plans to promote the language which are set to cost taxpayers more than £300,000.
The move was revealed as Aberdeenshire Council detailed how it would meet the Scottish Government’s Gaelic language plan.
Ministers want to promote the “acquisition of speaking, reading and writing skills in Gaelic” and aim to make it an official language of Scotland as well giving it equal standing with English.
However, Aberdeenshire officers have warned of an “additional cost burden” that could include more than £200,000 to make changes to road signs and bring in a bilingual logo as part of the plan.
The authority could also have to hire a Gaelic language officer to drive the changes through, with the cost of a three-year contract worth a total of £100,000.
The Gaelic-speaking teddy bears would be ordered to help children practise colours, shapes and numbers as part of the language shake-up.
Aberdeenshire council’s policy and resources committee will be asked to consider “an additional £305,488 budget to meet the additional costs associated with these changes” as part of a series of options for implementing the plan.
“A negative public response is anticipated should the decision be to recommend” and the expenditure is backed at a meeting on Thursday, council papers state.
North-east Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said that Aberdeenshire did not have a current Gaelic tradition and accused the Scottish Government of attempting to “impose” one.
He said: “It’s £300,000 that’s better spent elsewhere. Aberdeenshire is an area that has no live Gaelic tradition and doesn’t need one.”
The Scottish Government’s website states that “the position of Gaelic remains extremely fragile” in Scotland.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman added: “Our commitment to supporting all our indigenous languages, including Gaelic, is one of the reasons we have seen a growth in the number of Gaelic speakers under 20 over the past decade.”