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Council meetings move to Zoom over Welsh delay

Created on 20/10/2020 @ 09:56
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Powys County Council (PCC) remote attendance meetings will take place on Zoom, switching over from Microsoft Teams following a delay in providing Welsh translations.

Members of the Democratic Services Committee were told that continued issues with Welsh language translation will see the change of software take place over the next few weeks.

Head of Democratic Services and Scrutiny Manager, Wyn Richards, explained: “Discussions have been ongoing between the Welsh Government and Microsoft. It sounds like they (Microsoft) are doing something but there’s no timelines or guarantees as to when something is forthcoming.

“We’ve been given authority to move to Zoom, and we need to do it now. We need to resolve the issue of translating.”

Mr Richards, confirmed that  Zoom Licences have now been bought by PCC, adding: “The first stage is to get everyone set up on a Zoom account then we’ll get ICT  (Information Communication Technology) to put apps on members machines. After that, we’re going to start doing trials with translation.”

He explained that councillors would receive “intense” training sessions on the facilities within the app which includes voting.

Mr Richards said: “My aim would be to roll it out and start using it in some of our smaller committees before we get to full council at the end of November so that we have some experience of it.”

Back in May, several local authorities joined forces to back a campaign to ask Microsoft to have a live translation facility added into Teams. This would allow meeting to take place bilingually.

In Wales, the Welsh language has equal status in law and its use is encouraged.

There is an expectation that councillors should be able to conduct their business and speak at meetings in either Welsh or English.

Just under 2,800 people signed the petition asking Microsoft Teams to put this in place.

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter


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