Translation issue highlighted as council aim for “easily understandable” Welsh
Wrexham Council have produced its annual Welsh Language Annual Report detailing its progress and issues encountered while trying to achieve and surpass the standards.
The Welsh Language Standards, which came into force in 2016, requires the local authority to comply with 171 Standards which help ensure “the Council treats the Welsh and English languages on a basis of equality and respects the rights of Welsh speakers.”
The annual report, which is required in the Welsh Language Standards, highlights the progress and complaints made to Wrexham Council over the last 12 months.
In the document due before executive board tomorrow morning, reference is made to the impact of the last 12 months, which is described as being “extremely challenging for everyone and the way we work and provide services have, in all likelihood, changed forever.”
It adds: “Against the backdrop of a global pandemic the Council has continued to operate its Welsh language services as efficiently and effectively as possible.
“However, some things have inevitably not been possible such as the annual Welsh language county-wide survey and the St. David’s Day parade.”
The council refer to ‘challenges and instances of noncompliance’, noting there are less during this period, but it is noted that could be due to the pandemic.
A ‘cyber attack’ (due to “an email message that contained malicious software”) on the Welsh Language Commissioner’s office also ‘had a huge impact on the integrity and security of their systems and data resulting in a complete lock down of communication from their office until recently’, and could also be a reason for the reduction.
Details of complaints are also noted, with the regular run down of complaint and outcomes.
- A Covid-19 related article on the council’s newsblog was not available in Welsh at the same time and the English version. The Commissioner was satisfied the council were under immense pressure at the time with emergency public safety messaging being announced daily: “The communications team have sent out a huge amount of important information over the past 12 months and continue to publish all articles and social media posts bilingually.”
- A complaint on the envelope in which the ‘Council Tax Demand Notice’ was sent is in English only, and various paperwork inside it was “folded in such a way that English appears first”, with the council saying the ‘issues have been corrected’.
- A complaint that the Welsh ‘Araf’ should be positioned above the ‘Slow’ on a roadsign was actually a complaint on a roadsign already subject to a previous complaint.
- A pending investigation around english only emails about bin collections and payments, and other english-only correspondence.
- A complaint that Ty Pawb’s Twitter account publishes English tweets before publishing the Welsh version was explained as it was deliberate to ensure tweets in Welsh appear ‘above’ the english.
The training and recruitment section does not show prior year figures, which would show the increases in numbers of staff studying Welsh via Coleg Cambria (14 to 39) or the number and percentage of staff receiving Welsh language awareness training (1458 completed it last time, now 1772 in total).
Some previous monitoring reports have also detailed pageviews to the council’s social media channels and websites, split for English / Welsh language use. This report notes that due to the pandemic various events were not possible, with a move to digital / remote work for St David’s Day, with some public stats viewable.
The report explains: “In partnership with Flintshire County Council, Tŷ Pawb and Menter Iaith Fflint a Wrecsam we organised a week full of virtual celebrations and activities to celebrate St. David’s Day between March 1st- 5th. Finishing with a live streamed performance from Welsh language band ‘Bandicoot’.
“A virtual Eisteddfod was held as part of the celebrations with a number of competitions for the community” including locally sourced cooking, arts, history and photography.
“The council report the event was “a huge success with hundreds of children and residents taking part”, showing three videos released via Menter Iaith and Tŷ Pawb social media channels totalling 401 views at the time of writing.
“The HWB Cymraeg @Focus Wales has been rescheduled for 07/08/09 October 2021, which could see the memorable tent pop up on Queen’s Square later this year.
“One benchmark to the success of the Council’s 5-year promotion strategy that is coming to an end will be the recent Census, with the council waiting to see “what, if any, increase there has been in the number of Welsh speakers in the county borough”.
The report was briefly covered in yesterday’s Executive Board meeting, which saw the Lead Member Cllr Hugh Jones with an unusually bad connection answer questions.
One from Cllr Dana Davies asked if Wrexham Council would be reviewing translation services and other provisions to discover if they were value for money, and if alternative provisions were being sought.
Cllr Jones said, “In terms of translation, you will know as well as anybody really, there is a real problem with translation, because obviously we use the Conwy service. We have from time to time had criticism and I’ve made some comments on the fact that the translation service is very formal Welsh and is not necessarily colloquial or easily understandable Welsh.”
It was unclear due to technical issues what Cllr Jones said to wrap up his point, but he spoke of “significant issues” with translation before saying he was “probably going to offend some people by saying Rhosllanerchrugog cymraeg is different to to Welsh spoken in other parts of Wrexham.”
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