A GWENT council that has faced criticisms over the lack of Welsh-language provision online is looking at plans to spend more than £3,000 to translate its website.
Newport council’s website is currently English only and is in breach of the Welsh Language Act – which could leave it slapped with a fine of up to £5,000.
Cardiff council’s translation unit would be employed to translate the site’s content, much of which could go live by July 2015.
The council has previously faced criticism from the Welsh-language pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith, which sent Newport council a “congratulations” card for being the only authority in Wales to not have a bilingual website.
According to a report to deputy leader Ray Truman, plans for a bilingual website could initially cost £3,364 for translation work, with ongoing costs of £1,952 a year.
Content would be drawn up in English by council staff but would be translated by a Cardiff council service. Any new online services wouldn’t be launched until the back office can deal with requests in Welsh. Officers admit that the fact Newport is the only council without a Welsh-language web presence “is attracting attention from Welsh-language pressure groups, local people, the media and the Welsh Language Commissioner”.
It says the council is “in breach of the Welsh Language Act”, which could “result in a fine from the Welsh Language Commissioner of up to £5,000 and prompt the commission to launch an investigation”.
The report adds that the council has, during February and March, the chance to present evidence to the commissioner as she prepares to draw up new standards.
Newport has publicly stated that the main barrier to delivering a bilingual website is its content management system, the report says, but the authority has now procured one.
Euros ap Hywel, of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, welcomed the council delivering, but feared the authority was “stuck in a backward-looking mindset”.
Cllr Truman said the council was proposing to do the best it could with the money it has: “We’ve got to do it, it’s the law.”