Wales

Council's 'intransigent' Welsh-only code slammed

Cynwyd Image copyright Eric Jones

A Denbighshire community council has been branded "intransigent" for refusing to change a Welsh-only policy.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales said Cynwyd Community Council let residents down by not providing all its documents in English, as well as Welsh.

Karen Roden, a member of the public who made the original complaint, said she backed the Welsh language "100%"- but thought local democracy was being hit.

The community council said there was no case to answer.

The ombudsman Nick Bennett said: "While I fully support the principle of any Welsh council conducting its business through the medium of Welsh, it should also ensure those who consider English as their first language are not excluded.

"It is worrying that the council has taken such an intransigent position throughout my investigation, and their refusal to act reasonably has let down their local community, both Welsh and English speaking."

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Media captionCouncil's 'failure to act' blamed in language row

His findings followed a complaint made by a member of the public, who did not speak Welsh.

Karen Roden, who is referred to as Mrs X in the report, told BBC Wales: "I am not expecting them to carry out their business in English to please me."

But she argued that providing an agenda bilingually would help encourage others to get involved in local democracy.

"I don't feel you can participate properly if you don't know what there are discussing," she said.

"It puts you at a disadvantage."

Mr Bennett said he made "entirely reasonable" recommendations but local councillors refused to accept them.

He told BBC's Good Morning Wales programme that he believed the issue could have been resolved "very easily". But one year on and following a "lot of intransigence and a failure to act" by the community council, he reluctantly published the report.

'Last resort'

Mr Bennett said the council was "not a private club that makes its own rules", adding: "It is there for a reason to serve its local community and that should always be its focus."

He said the report was published as "a last resort" and he hoped the community council would respond with what it intended to do by the middle of December.

Mrs Roden told BBC Wales that she welcomed the findings, but had rejected a suggestion that she should receive £100 for her troubles - adding that she did not want to take money from a community council coffers.

Responding to the report, council clerk Alwyn Jones Parry insisted there was a "reasonable translation process" and there would be no apology to Mrs Roden.

A council reply to the Ombudsman said: "We emphatically say that Cynwyd Community Council believes that we have no case to answer.

"The complaint is without foundation, time wasting, a waste of money, and incorrect use of the Ombudsman."

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