Blaenau Gwent vow to improve Welsh language services after Welsh Language Commissioner investigation
Blaenau Gwent have vowed to improve their Welsh language services “across the board” after an investigation by the Welsh Language Commissioner.
The commissioner found that there were “a number of failures to comply with Welsh Language Standards” at the council.
These included failures in the fields of telephony services, promotion of services, assessing staff language skills, providing training opportunities and assessing the linguistic needs of jobs.
Blaenau Gwent Council has accepted the findings of the Commissioner’s report in full, Damien McCann, Interim Chief Executive, said.
“We accept the Commissioner’s ruling and have worked closely with the Commissioner’s office throughout the investigation,” he said.
“As a result, we have already committed to providing more resources that will improve the standing of the Welsh language within the Council and to fully undertake the recommended steps.
“In addition, and in order to ensure that the work proceeds as is necessary, we have established an executive group which will report directly to the Chief Executive on the actions.”
“After an initial investigation to assess the Council’s telephone services, it became clear that none of the centre’s staff members who dealt with telephone calls were able to speak Welsh,” the Commissioner’s office said.
“This raised concerns that there were wider problems in terms of recruitment, training and awareness of the Welsh language within the organisation and the scope of the investigation was expanded.
“Steps have been taken in order to ensure the Council complies with the Welsh Language Standards in the areas of telephony, promotion of services, assessing staff language skills, providing training opportunities and assessing the language needs of jobs.
The Commissioner’s office added: “In order to succeed in offering quality Welsh language services, an organisation must consider the Welsh language with a top down approach. It is pleasing to note that the Council has co-operated fully with our investigation and has accepted that amendments are needed to its operating arrangements.
“I look forward to seeing the reforms implemented and the result will mean services available in Welsh for Blaenau Gwent residents.”
A new Welsh Language Commissioner, Efa Gruffudd Jones, was appointed by the First Minister Mark Drakeford last month, but does not begin until January.
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