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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 7 April, 2014

 

Report of the Leader

 

Welsh Language Standards

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek Cabinet endorsement of the Council's response to the consultation of the Welsh Language Commissioner on the proposed Welsh Language Standards for the Council.

Recommendations

1.         That the proposed Welsh Language Standards agreed by Welsh Government and promulgated by the Welsh Language Commissioner are noted.

2.         That the Council's consultation response (Appendix 1) is endorsed.

3.         That the response be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for their information.

4.         That the urgent decision procedure, as set out in article 13.09 of the Council's Constitution, be used in view of the need to respond to the Welsh Language Commissioner by the deadline of 18 April, 2014.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To make Cabinet aware of the proposed Standards.

2.         To prepare for the implementation of the Standards when they are agreed for the Council.

3.         To inform Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources).

4.         To ensure that the response is returned within the consultation period, no later than the deadline of 18 April, 2014.

Background

2.         The Welsh Government has agreed Welsh Language Standards for certain public bodies (including Councils).  The role of the Welsh Language Commissioner is to determine how these Standards should apply to each body individually and then assess whether they are being properly implemented.    

3.         The Standards have been published as part of the Welsh Language Measure 2011. Councils will receive a compliance notice from the Commissioner later in the year based on their response to the consultation.  Failure to comply with the Standards as set out in the compliance notice could mean fines and potentially reputational damage.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.         The Standards consultation commenced on 27 January 2014, through the use of a detailed questionnaire (Appendix 1). Completed questionnaires are required to be returned by 18 April.  The questionnaire is important, as it will form the basis of the level of compliance that will be required by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.  The questionnaire is the Council's opportunity to identify which Standards are already being implemented, but also to highlight the barriers to implementing the Standards in full.

5.         A list of the Standards is attached at Appendix 2.

6.         In December 2014, the Commissioner will issue a compliance notice, detailing what the Council will be required to do to meet its obligations in respect of the Welsh language.

7.         As can be seen from Appendix 2, the Standards are stringent, and represent a significant challenge and step change from previous Welsh Language Schemes.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

8.         There are potentially significant cost implications in delivering the Standards. This is not yet known, as the level of compliance will not be provided until December 2014 at the earliest.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

9.         The promotion of the Welsh language is part of the social aspects of implementing Sustainable Development in Wales.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

10.      The Council will be obliged to comply with the compliance notice as a result of the Welsh Language Measure 2011.

Crime and Disorder Implications

11.      Services involved in tackling crime and disorder, as public bodies, will be required to comply with the Standards.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

12.      The Standards are being introduced as part of the Welsh Language Measure 2011, designed to put the Welsh language on an equal footing with English.

Corporate/Service Objectives

13.      The Corporate and Customer Services Service Plan for 2014-18 states that "the impending establishment of a set of Welsh Language Standards in 2014 applicable to public bodies will require a new approach".

Policy Framework and Budget

14.      This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

15.      This report sets out the Council's proposed response to the Welsh Language Commissioner's consultation.  There are no specific ward issues - the proposals cover the Vale as a whole.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

16.      Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Proposed Standards relating to the Welsh Language - Welsh Government, January 2014

 

Contact Officer

Huw Isaac, Head of Performance and Development

Tel: 01446 709760

Email: hisaac@valeofglamorgan.gov.uk

 

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

 

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Managing Director

 

 

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