Welsh language 'big drain' on Wrexham council

Misspelled Welsh words circled with a black marker pen Image copyright Neil Wyn Jones
Image caption A member of the public highlighted Welsh language issues on a sign using a marker pen

Meeting Welsh language standards is having a negative impact on a council's finances, one member has claimed.

Wrexham council has come under fire for a string of errors, including mistakes on signs that have had to be replaced.

Councillor Sonia Benbow-Jones said Welsh was important, but felt it was a "big drain on our resources".

Hugh Jones, deputy leader of the council, claimed the cost - £162,000 last year - was "relatively moderate" compared to the cultural benefit.

Public bodies in Wales are required to provide services in both English and Welsh or face being fined, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Councillors were told that translation services for Wrexham were provided by Conwy council.

It has previously been suggested the service should be brought back in-house to keep a closer eye on the quality of translation, but members have baulked at the estimated price of more than £216,000.

Ms Benbow-Jones said it was "fantastic" the Welsh Government was putting money into teaching Welsh in schools.

But she added: "For older people who haven't got the benefit of being able to use the language and the challenge it presents, it's a big cost to us."

Councillor Jones, responsible for the council's compliance with Welsh language standards, said the problem in hiring translators was that they preferred to work in a "more Welsh-speaking" part of the country.

He stressed that the contract with Conwy was the most cost-effective way of delivering the bilingual service.

The expense was also balanced out by "the huge influx" Wrexham enjoyed as a result of Welsh-language events in the town centre and at the Ty Pawb cultural hub, he added.

"While there is a cost, I would say it is relatively moderate cost in terms of the benefit the young people of Wrexham get," Councillor Jones said.

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