The investigation concluded that the council had ‘let down its local community’ by failing to provide agendas and other council documents bilingually, disadvantaging English speakers in the area.

A complaint was made to the Ombudsman by Mrs X (anonymised) about Cynwyd Community Council‘s poor communication with local residents. Despite Welsh Government guidance that states councils should be inclusive by ensuring no-one feels disadvantaged[1] the Council was conducting all meetings in Welsh, as well as posting some of its notices in Welsh only, which prevented non-Welsh speaking Mrs X from becoming involved in Council business.

An Ombudsman investigation found that by only publishing meeting agendas and
minutes in Welsh, the Council could be considered to be excluding and disadvantaging those who do not understand Welsh. After giving the Council several opportunities to resolve the issue voluntarily, the Ombudsman made a number of recommendations including publishing all agendas bilingually. However, Cynwyd Council has refused to accept the Ombudsman’s findings or implement his recommendations.

Nick Bennett, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, said:

“While I fully support the principle of any Welsh council conducting its business through the medium of Welsh, it should also ensure those who consider English as their first language are not excluded.

“It is worrying that the Council has taken such an intransigent position throughout my investigation, and their refusal to act reasonably has let down their local community, both Welsh and English-speaking.

‘I am hugely disappointed that by refusing to accept my entirely reasonable
recommendations, Cynwyd Council has forced me to issue a public interest report.”