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‘Mystery shopper’ exposes Council’s Welsh flaws

Created on 30/06/2022 @ 11:55


By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Powys County Council is making good progress in normalising Welsh in its day-to-day work, but a ‘mystery shopper’ operation showed that there is still room for improvement.

Councillors were discussing a report looking at the work done over the past year to strengthen the Welsh language in Powys. It includes nine recommendations from the Welsh Language Commissioner so that the council can bolster its processes and comply with standards.

The commissioner’s work included ringing up the council in Welsh to find out what sort of the service Welsh speaking callers receive from the council.

It was only on the third call that the commissioner was greeted in Welsh and within the appropriate time frame which prompted Powys to conduct their own mystery shopper exercise which encountered similar problems.

In response, the council said it will: “Offer training and support to staff where necessary and strengthen our procedures for answering and handling calls in Welsh.”

A second issue raised by the commissioner had seen a change of email signature being rolled out across all council staff which states: “You are welcome to contact us in Welsh. We will respond in Welsh, without delay.”

The commission found that Powys staff had stated that they “welcome” correspondence in Welsh but did not say they would “reply in Welsh, without delay” as is requirement.

Cabinet member for future generations which includes responsibility for the Welsh language, Cllr Sandra Davies said: “There is room for improvement which I’m sure we’ve all picked up. It’s good that the secret shopper has identified some of the issues and now that we are aware of those we can try and remedy to improve.”

Cabinet member for a learning Powys, Cllr Pete Roberts noted that there were delays with setting up a committee after a new Welsh language officer joined the council.

Cllr Roberts said: “I appreciate we were at the end of the council term, and we were approaching purdah, but can I have some assurances that it won’t be repeated.”

The council’s chief executive Dr Caroline Turner said: “I agree, it’s a shame that committee has not been established and we will now move ahead to propose people to be part of that group and I will ensure that it will start as soon as possible.”

The report recommendations were agreed unanimously by the cabinet.


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