Complaints at all time high over Torfaen's Welsh language services
1:01pm Saturday 14th September 2013 in News
COMPLAINTS about Torfaen council’s Welsh language services have reached an all time high.
Complaints for 2012/13 were four times that of 2009/10,2010/11 and 2011/12 combined although that still only totalled 20 complaints.
Complaints ranged from displeasure with the council’s website and Torfaen Talks, its community newspaper, to concerns about social media and signs in the borough.
Torfaen is currently subject to an investigation by the Welsh language commissioner launched in relation to its automated customer service phoneline.
In the process they became the first local authority to be investigated by the commissioner, which replaced the old Welsh Language Board last year.
The figures were presented in a report to the authority’s cabinet in Pontypool yesterday by Torfaen’s Welsh language officer Alan Vernon-Jones, as part of Torfaen’s Welsh Language Scheme: Annual monitoring report, which they have to present to the commissioner each year.
Mr Vernon-Jones told the meeting: “We have seen a high increase in the number of complaints to the council in the last financial year.
“However that is the total number of complaints, so some of those have been multiple complaints about a specific issue.”
Mr Vernon-Jones’ report to cabinet highlighted the need for Torfaen to improve face to face Welsh language services available and that contracts with external bodies needed to be monitored better to ensure they fulfilled Welsh language requirements.
But the report did state: “The council has raised the profile of Welsh language both internally and to residents during 2012-13.”
The council stressed that all staff have bilingual auto signatures on emails and are encouraged to display out of office messages in English and Welsh.
An external translation company is also used to translate 75 per cent of the corporate website and investment in translation software has increased the ability to translate more documents more quickly while work to produce bilingual email addresses was ongoing.
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