Agenda item

Welsh Language

To consider the annual report of the council’s performance in embedding Welsh language.


Alan Burkitt presented the report and answered the members’ questions.


For perspective, how many calls are made in other languages during the same period as the 74 Welsh calls?

About 75,000 English calls. On calling the council line there is the option to continue in English or Welsh. Expectation levels are likely low, so many Welsh speakers will probably choose the English line. Figures have slowly increased over the years, and that is likely to continue.

Are the stated Welsh language skills among the staff based on self-evaluation or someone else’s determination?

I have spoken to all of the ‘fluent’ Welsh speakers, and I know the people in the ‘higher’ levels. I organise the classes for the ‘lower’ levels; the further someone goes through the course then they go up the levels. With self-assessment, people tend to under-assess their skills, so I try to chat with them and gauge their level. It’s not an exact science, of course, especially as there are different levels of fluency.

Is there a particular service area that’s of concern? CYP looks like a problem area, for example?

Yes, I would agree that there is a shortage of skills in CYP. Frontline is where we have the particular challenge. We have now appointed people in the contact centre who are Welsh speakers, which has worked really well. There has been something of a hiatus due to Covid, but once we are back working in offices as before, we don’t have many staff who could speak to someone who comes through the door. This is a problem: if we were challenged, we would have difficulty in offsetting that challenge.

What support could the Welsh language group in Monmouthshire give to town and community councils, especially in providing translations?

I’ve had very fruitful conversations with town and community councils in Monmouth, Usk, Chepstow, Caldicot and Abergavenny. We are trying to be realistic in terms of resources. The website is probably the biggest public service that is provided. From a conversation with Councillor Tudor Thomas we started on the Abergavenny one, and from there, conversations have taken place with other town and community clerks. We have offered to do translations for their sites. They are still under the old Welsh language act, and aren’t subject to the same requirements that we are, so don’t need to translate as much.

It would be good to see more in the report, for example, by including the Welsh speaking teaching staff. Can we also highlight the changes in our schools i.e. the new schools, and things like the Welsh youth club in Caldicot?

Yes, these are interesting points. The 2011 census gave the Welsh-speaking population as 9.9%, approximately 8,500 people; that has no doubt increased in the most recent census. It is therefore a sizeable minority. Concerning data for schools, our focus for this particular report was our resource for providing council services – we therefore can’t include schools staff as a resource.


Chair’s Summary:

We’d like to thank Alan Burkitt for bringing us the report on our compliance on adhering to Welsh language legislation over the period 2020-2021. 

The Officer highlighted several key issues, which are that:

·         Training online has been successful and courses such as Say Something in Welsh have been useful

·         Our Welsh speaker telephone line is working effectively and whilst we don’t have a huge volume of calls, those who use the line are very pleased to have this service

·         Recruiting Welsh speaker appointments is the key area where we are struggling. We advertise every role as ‘Welsh speaker desirable’ but we have only recruited 2 individuals and we are not currently recruiting Welsh Language as ‘essential requirements’


A members asked for clarification on the number of Welsh calls (which are 74) in relation to the number of English speaking calls ~ which are 75 000.

Another member asked whether Town and Community Councils are supported to show commitment to Welsh Language. The officer advised that he has offered to assist through translation of their websites, but suggested they are not subject to the same requirements as a county council.

A member suggested there are more Welsh speakers in our staff than are reported due to staff within schools not having been counted. The officer explained that whilst we could count these staff in our report, but given that they are ring-fenced to their roles, they are not able to support our council services. The suggestion by the member was that we could better promote the Welsh language if we held events with all Welsh-speaking staff.

Action:  That the officer takes a report to full council on promoting Welsh language across Monmouthshire.

Councillor Guppy suggested that a full report go to council celebrating our achievements and highlighting progress since Eisteddfod.


Supporting documents: