WELSH LANGUAGE COMMISSIONER
To consider a report by the Welsh Language Officer (copy enclosed) updating the committee on the findings of the Committee – areas for improvement and areas for promoting during 2021.
The Welsh Language Officer (WLO) presented the results of the Welsh Language Commissioner’s Monitoring Report. Every year, the Welsh Language Commissioner carries out checks amongst organisations implementing the statutory Welsh Language Standards to ensure those organisations comply with the legislation.
The Commissioner’s team also arrange an annual meeting to discuss the findings and to report on progress with the yearly Welsh Language Monitoring Report. Dylan Jones, on behalf of the Commissioner, explained the Commissioner's new way of working from this year on looking at organisations' compliance with the relevant standards. Recruitment was their priority.
The findings – Service Delivery -
During May and June 2021, Welsh Language commissioner officers had negative experiences when corresponding with the Council by receiving English-only responses to correspondence sent via the Council's online form. The WLO explained the process when the Council received such correspondence and explained that she had discussed it with the managers of the relevant departments. It seems that the mistakes of individual officers were to blame. Managers have been sent a message for cascading to all their staff
During the 2021-22 surveys, portions of the automated message when phoning the main Council number were unclear. The investigation discovered that not all documents and forms contained a statement on the English versions that they were also available in Welsh. There was 1 example of a document that did not comply with standard 49, namely: Denbighshire Schools Information Guide 2021-22, as well as two examples of a form that did not comply with standard 50A. These were: Denbighshire County Council concern/complaint form.
Lastly, Welsh Language commissioner officers made two visits to the reception area of the Council offices in Caledfryn, Denbigh. They received no Welsh services during either visit. The WLO noted that one member of staff (a Welsh learner) had left, and therefore the WLO suggested the appointment of a Welsh speaker before the pandemic. The proposal was still in place, and consequently, a Welsh-speaking receptionist would be assigned once the reception in Caledfryn reopened.
It was noted that the Council's self-assessment evidence when considering the impact of policy decisions on the Welsh language was positive. The possibility of exploring this further was discussed to create an example of effective practice for that particular section on the Commissioner's new website. Promoting the Welsh language - Assess the achievement of a Welsh language promotion strategy
The WLO noted that work is underway to revise the strategy for a launch at the Urdd National Eisteddfod in Denbigh in 2022. The WLO felt frustrated that the results of the census in terms of the Welsh language would not be available by the time the new Strategy was published, which made it difficult to see whether the target which was set five years ago had been met. The lack of information also has an impact on setting a target for the next strategy, as well as knowing where resources need to be targeted. The WLO mentioned the possibility of planning a 10-year strategy with more ambitious long-term targets.
Members discussed the following in further detail –
· Members highlighted swimming lessons within the report; they queried why there were so few swimming lessons held in the medium of Welsh in contrast to ones held through the medium of English. The WLO informed the committee that wait times were for both mediums; however, there was never a shortage of English lessons. The WLO also clarified that when parents would register their children for classes, they would specify their chosen languages. However, most parents were not willing to wait until enough children were waiting for Welsh-medium swimming lessons.
· Members queried whether Denbighshire Leisure (DL) was required to conform to the same Welsh Language standards as Denbighshire County Council (DCC). Responding the Lead Member for Education, Children's Services and Public Engagement informed the committee the DCC and DL were both meant to conform with the Welsh Language Standards and told the committee that if anyone had any concerns, they could raise the matters with either himself or Councillor Bobby Feeley as they both were members of the governance board for DL.
· Responding to queries about new starters to the Council and whether they were made aware of the Welsh Language Standards, the WLO made members aware the standards were within the induction process to the Council.
RESOLVED that the Welsh Language Steering Committee note the Welsh Language Commissioner’s Monitoring Report and approve the action plan.