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Council defends Welsh-language spending after questions about value for money

Caerphilly County Borough Council offices in Tredomen (Pic: LDRS)

CAERPHILLY County Borough Council says it is “committed to providing high quality bilingual services to residents”, after questions were asked about value for money.

Recently, senior councillors welcomed news the organisation was employing more Welsh-speaking staff and had expanded its translation team.

Following that news, a Caerphilly Council website user shared figures obtained from Freedom of Information Act requests, which showed Welsh language visitors accounted for fewer than 1% of total page views of the council’s website in 2023.

That website user, speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, said the figures “speak for themselves” and “demonstrate that whatever resources Caerphilly Council may be throwing at the matter does not reflect the real world of their website users”.

Welsh-language page views made up 0.95% of all visits to Caerphilly Council’s website last year, which was the highest in the Gwent region, ahead of Monmouthshire (0.76%) and Torfaen (0.27%).

Blaenau Gwent’s reported figure of 0.15% covered the second half of 2023, while the 0.78% in Newport only covered views of the council website homepage.

Reflecting on the rate of Welsh language page views in Caerphilly, the website user who provided the figures said: “Even though they have the highest percentage of Welsh language website users in Gwent, it is still less than one in a hundred. Local taxpayers are bound to ask if such expenditure is a sensible use of limited resources or just another box-ticking exercise to satisfy the Welsh language ‘commissar’.”

A Caerphilly Council spokesman defended the council’s record on Welsh language services, however, and pointed to successes highlighted at the recent cabinet meeting.

“Like all other government and public bodies in Wales, Caerphilly County Borough Council is required to comply with the Welsh Language Standards, introduced under the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011,” he said.

“The standards give the language equal legal status with English and clearly sets out what our responsibilities are in terms of providing bilingual services, ensuring the Welsh language is not treated less favourably than the English language.”

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The spokesman noted that 2023 was the fifth year in a row that Caerphilly Council has avoided any Welsh Language Commissioner investigations for “non-compliance”.

The council is “committed to providing high quality bilingual services to residents, across all of our channels, including our website to improve our customer service and ensure we are meeting the needs of our Welsh speakers”, he added.