PENARTH Town Council has refused to change its Welsh language policy on the grounds that it would not make sound business sense.

Councillors argued that as they were awaiting guidance about how to comply with Welsh language standards it would not make sense to amend its existing policy in the meantime.

A report before the policy and finance committee last night (October 30) said that a number of queries had been received from the Penarth Welsh Language Society about the town council’s Welsh Language Scheme over the last few months, and that town clerk Shan Bowden had sought advice from the Welsh Language Commissioner.

The Commissioner confirmed that codes of practical guidance on how to comply with Welsh language standards are still awaited since the Welsh Language Measure 2011, but offered a number of amendments to the town council’s existing scheme.

These include: ensuring new policies and initiatives are consistent with the Welsh Language Scheme, all circular or standard letters to the public will be bilingual, the Town Clerk will be responsible for translating correspondence and the Town Council’s official headed paper will include a statement in both languages making it clear that correspondence is welcome in either Welsh or English.

Other amendments include advertising that it would be “desirable” for future applications for the position of Town Clerk or other key positions to have bilingual skills.

Labour councillor Gwyn Roberts, who represents the St Augustine’s ward, said it did not make “sound business sense” to change the existing language scheme.

“There is a Welsh Language Scheme adopted and complied with, and to change a long standing scheme with a new scheme coming soon doesn’t make sound business sense.

“Changing it now when we will have to change it again doesn’t seem sensible. What we should be doing is waiting until we have another scheme.”

Labour Councillor Neil Thomas, who represents the Cornerswell ward, said that he had supported movements to improve Welsh language in Wales for many years, but said: “This seems a little premature to implement this as there’s a new different policy in the offing with the Commissioner looking at codes of practice.

“Maybe we should wait until that comes before moving forward.”

He also questioned the cost implications and added: “I think we are anticipating codes of practice are going to change again soon, so we should not make life more expensive than it needs to be.”

Labour Councillor Tracey Alexander, who represents the St Augustine’s ward, added that she had children educated in Welsh and said that a task and finish group should be set up to discuss the matter.

Conservative Councillor Anthony Ernest, who represents the Plymouth ward, added that the amendments stated that the town clerk would be responsible for translating letters, but “by her own admissions she is not a Welsh speaker”.

He added: “I think we should wait for definitive guidance to come through.”

Conservative Councillor Martin Turner, who represents the Plymouth ward, added that as it had recently been agreed to translate the town council Christmas Brochure into Welsh it would be useful to see what the uptake was.

Conservative Councillor Clive Williams, who represents the Plymouth ward, said that the council should be wary about translating legal documents and other letters into Welsh as “one word wrong and the whole thing goes to pieces.

“When we are spending public money we need to take it all into account.”