This year’s Penarth Christmas Festival programme is to be printed – for the first time – in Welsh as well as in English.
The council’s Leisure and Amenities Committee last night agreed to pay an extra £410 to print just 50 copies of a Welsh language version of the programme in addition to 10,500 print-run of the English language version of the same publication. There will also be a Welsh-language on-line version of the programme.
The English language version of the programme is, as usual, to is to be made available through local shops distributed free . The Welsh-language printed version will only be available on request from the council’s headquarters at West House West.
In last night’s meeting the Deputy Town Clerk Keri Hutchings told councillors that correspondence had been repeatedly received from two individuals demanding that the council’s publicity material – including the forthcoming Christmas Festival programme – should be published in Welsh as well as in English.
A council report noted that the Welsh Language Act of 1993 established Welsh and English languages should be treated equally by public bodies, including town and community councils and that the councils should prepare a “Welsh Language Scheme” . The report said Penarth Council was still awaiting the publication of formal standards for such councils by the Welsh Language Commissioner. In the meantime there was nothing in the existing scheme that said the council must publish bi-lingual versions of its publicity material.
The Leader of the Council Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) said the council would be complying with the Welsh Language policies insofar as they applied to the council at the moment . “We are waiting for further advice on that” – he said. “Any action taken should be exploratory and part of the process of review to establish demand for this service” .
Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) asked the Deputy Town Clerk “If we make available a Welsh-language version of the programme available on our web site – the cost involving pure translation – would that satisfy the people who ask?” . Mr Hutchings replied there would be no difference in cost. Cllr Turner said he didn’t understand why the two prices should be the same.
Cllr Janet Birch (Labour Stanwell) suggested the council should “investigate this tremendous feeling of volunteering which people appear to have” and asked if there might be anyone in Penarth who would be willing to translate the brochure for the council. However it was pointed out that the actual translation costs were only £160.
Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) said in effect, when graphics were included, the two publications would have to be the same.
Cllr Clive Williams said “The two people that are continually contacting Keri [the Deputy Town Clerk Keri Hutchings] should have the ball thrown back in their court and be asked if they would like to translate for us“.
Cllr Neil Thomas ( Labour Cornerswell) said the council needed to ascertain the level of demand [for the Welsh-language version]. The number of times a digital version was accessed would provide figures. “Putting out a large number of these things [the Welsh Language version] in printed form would go against our green credentials as a council which we are anxious to maintain. If they aren’t taken up we would be wasting an awful lot of trees“. Cllr Thomas said the council needed to “bite the bullet and go for this one this time” but review the position earlier next year.
Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said there was another option – not to have a brochure at all. Details could simply be put on the website. This would avoid all the printing costs. Although he found the brochure very helpful “in times of economy perhaps we could afford to do away with it”.
Cllr Martin Turner proposed that as the cost of 50 copies was £410 and could be accommodated within the existing budget that as a trial the council would “go ahead on that route and see what take-up there is of it.” The Welsh language version, he suggested, should be available to people requesting copies and not distributed. The committee agreed to his proposal .
Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) added that if the Welsh language versions “all went” the council could produce more . He also suggested the council obtain advice from “One Voice Wales” – the collective organisation serving town and community councils top establish what other councils did with regard to bi-lingual publications.
Cllr Janice Birch (Labour Stanwell) thought the council should recognise and be honest about what was really behind this. She said “This is an effort to get a law recognised”.