Questions over introducing Welsh language requirement to stand as councillor

By Katy Jenkins   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Tuesday 14th June 2022 9:00 am
Cllr Gareth Lloyd inset and Penmorfa council building in Aberaeron (Cambrian News )

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COUNCILLORS have considered whether to introduce a rule meaning anyone wishing to stand for public office would have to be able to speak Welsh, or willing to learn.

Cllr Gareth Lloyd, the councillor for Llandysilio and Llangrannog and leader of the opposition Independents Group, questioned a meeting of the Language Committee of the council held on Monday over whether it was possible to “put a condition of speaking Welsh” when being a public representative, as in all areas “there will be a certain number of Welsh speakers”.

He added: “In order to represent them, to discuss with your electorate, is there an argument for putting Welsh knowledge as a condition or a willingness to learn?”

Cllr Lloyd was told that there were some rules that prevented people standing as a councillor but language was not one of them, and it was unlikely that Welsh Government would be “going that far”.

Cllr Lloyd’s comments came as councillors raised questions about the use of Welsh at community councils and how this could be increased, with members hearing of a tendency to revert to English if a non-Welsh speaker was present.

The committee heard that millions of words a year are translated by the council a year and there was not the capacity to provide simultaneous translation for community council meetings as well as county council.

The meeting on Monday centred on discussions about the Welsh Language Standards Monitoring Report 2021-2022, where Ceredigion County Councillors were updated on the progress made implementing the legal framework relating to the Welsh language.

The legal framework says that councils “must not treat the Welsh language less favourably than the English language” and promote and facilitate the use of Welsh.

The framework is covered by five mains standards and 167 sub-standards.

The standards report also highlighted the use of remote working during the pandemic and the move to Zoom of committees, utilising its simultaneous translation channel, with 229 meetings provided with translation between March 2021 and April 2022.

Residents contacting the council can also do so in their chosen language with 15 of the 19 service staff fluent Welsh speakers, although the number of English language calls was higher and the council will be raising awareness of the Welsh services available.

A report said that “the process of implementing the standards is ongoing”, but more work is needed to fully meet the Welsh Language Standards’ requirements.

“The aim is to make certain that the requirements are naturally mainstreamed into the council’s work, as well as ensuring that Welsh services are available by default.

“The council is committed to making further improvements, and to working in a way that will ensure it fully meets the Welsh Language Standards’ requirements.

“In this report, the Council acknowledges that progress has been made, but more work could be done to improve our services’ Welsh-medium provision.”

The standards report will be signed off by cabinet before being sent to the Welsh language commissioner and publication online.

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