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Wrexham council spend £161k to translate three million words in to Welsh – but say it is cheaper than doing it themselves

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Monday, May 13th, 2019.

Welsh translation costs at Wrexham Council are unlikely to be brought back “in-house” due to the cost and previous difficulties of “retaining and recruiting staff”.

Currently Wrexham Council are in the second year of a three year contract with Conwy Council for all of its written Welsh language translation.

The cost of the contract is £153,000 for the translation of 2,500,000 words – which equates to 0.06p per word or £60 per 1,000 words. The contract also contains a 10 per cent ‘leeway’ fee, meaning that should more / less words be translate, the fixed fee is paid.

Figures for the past 12 months show that Wrexham Council translated almost 3,000,000 words, resulting in an additional cost of £8,810. This means that £161,810 was paid during the last financial year for the translation service.

In a report due before the council’s customers, performance, resources and governance scrutiny committee this week it is noted that there have been requests from some councillors to bring the service back ‘in house’ and that the council recruits its own translators.

However the report states that doing so is likely to cost a minimum of £216,693 compared to the current Conwy Contract of £153,000.

Previously Wrexham Council did operate a translation service in house, consisting of four translators and a senior translator. A decision to ‘externalise the service’ was later made by the executive board because of difficulties retaining / recruiting staff due to Wrexham Council paying “less for qualified translators that other North Wales authorities”.

The report continues onto say: “We also struggled to attract translators to this area as many preferred to work in a more Welsh-speaking area of Wales.

“There is nothing to suggest that these recruitment challenges have been resolved during this period and we therefore suspect the same issues would arise again.

“Based on the number of words translated last year we would have to recruit a team of 5.5 translators in addition to an administrative officer.

“We would also need a manager for the team but this could be added to the duties of an existing manager.”

Overall it is estimated that bringing the service back in house would cost £206,693 for staff and an additional £8,000 (with an annual licensing charge of £1,500) to purchase a similar ‘memory bank system’ to that being used by Conwy Council – which logs what has been translated before, so if you are retranslating huge documents with just a date change you in theory just get billed for the date change.

The report also covers complaints made to Wrexham Council and the Welsh Language Commissioner about “an alleged lack of compliance with the standards” over the past 12 months.

A total of 34 complaints were made, of which 24 investigations were initiated by the Commissioner (one later discontinued) and two not investigated as no breach of the Standards.

Such complaints include:

– English only on the What’s On guide
– Social media
– The Council’s Constitution
– Tŷ Pawb website
– Signage
– Externally hosted portals: LDP, Your Voice Wrexham, Schools Admissions, Welsh Government’s 30 hours free childcare
– Car parking sign at a country park contained a number of inaccuracies

Last year Wrexham Council was also accused of disrespecting tax payers and the Welsh language following a series of complaints over errors in Council Tax bills.

The report states: ” It is heartening to note that following the investigation into non-compliance with signage that there were no breaches for the remainder of the year.

“However, we are not complacent and continue to ensure that our processes are robust and that staff are reminded of their responsibilities regarding the need for accurate and compliant signage.

“It is a concern however that errors still occur in other areas. Many of the complaints outlined in the Commissioner’s investigations are quickly and easily remedied and once we have actioned them there is no re-occurrence e.g. correcting the guest wifi.

“Where the issues are more endemic, such as errors on external portals, work is already underway to remedy this. Rigorous testing is taking place to ensure that any portals on the new site work equally in both Welsh and English.

“Where there are training issues, e.g. Welsh phone lines being answered in English, then this is
something that we will address to ensure that staff understand the Council’s procedures and policies for providing services in Welsh.”

The report (which can be viewed in full here) will be considered by members of the customers, performance, resources and governance scrutiny committee on Wednesday afternoon.

Top pic from when Welsh language campaigners slapped stickers on about 80 give way signs in Wrexham in protest at them being displayed in English only.



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