I haven't seen this story from last night's Newyddion 9 reported anywhere else, so I thought I'd put it up for any who might have missed it:
In essence the report says that the leader of Neath Port Talbot Council has agreed to allow councillors to speak in Welsh once a year, on or around St David's Day.
According to the South Wales Evening Post, the background to this story is that Rebeca Lewis, the Plaid Cymru Councillor for Trebanos, had wanted to speak at council meetings in Welsh. She was at first told by council officers that there was no simultaneous translation service available, even though the council's own Welsh Language Scheme states that:
Meetings of the Council
The Council's Standing Orders require that in all proceedings of the Council, the Welsh language and the English language shall be given the same status and validity, with appropriate advance arrangements being required for simultaneous translation facility requirements.
Naturally, she then tried to find out how much notice was required, and was eventually told that it needed four weeks' advance notice. However that wasn't of the slightest use because the usual notice period for council meetings is only two weeks. When she told the council officers that this was ridiculous, she was told that a week's notice would "probably" be enough.
To me, that seems fairly reasonable, not least because she had said that she wanted to speak in Welsh at every meeting. So the council officers would be in no doubt about what they were required to do on a regular basis.
But that makes the story as reported by the BBC all the more strange. Why, if council officers had already agreed that simultaneous translation could be provided at every meeting other than those arranged at very short notice, would it be necessary to reach a "compromise" that reduced this to only one token meeting a year?
Even more strange is why the leader of the Plaid Cymru group, Linet Purcell, has agreed to this as a compromise. Or why another Plaid councillor, Del Morgan, was reported as saying this compromise was a step forward.
How on earth can getting something less than the Council's own Welsh Language Scheme requires, and less than the Council's own officers were reported as having agreed they could do only two weeks ago, be considered a step forward? We shouldn't be on our knees begging for and being satisfied with a crust of bread, Del Boi, we should be on our feet firmly insisting on rights that have been established by law.
As the BBC report said, other members of the Plaid group on Neath Port Talbot Council are not at all content with the compromise that the leader of the Plaid group has agreed to, and I don't blame them. I'm quite frankly amazed that anyone in the party would be anything less than disgusted by the spinelessness of the Plaid leadership in Neath Port Talbot for ignoring both principle and good practice, and agreeing to nothing more than a token gesture instead.
To Beca, I would say that you should stand up for your right to speak in Welsh at every meeting you want to. Well done for taking this so far, but please don't give up now. This is too important a matter for such a shameful, shabby compromise.