Cynwyd is a peaceful village of around 550 residents. Last year, harmony was disrupted when a resident expressed discontent about the community council publishing notices only in the Welsh language and its failure to provide English translations of the council’s agenda papers.
An ombudsman had to intervene, calling to account the Welsh-speaking councillors for their error, which escalated when his recommendation to print documents in Welsh and English was not accepted. The debate continues to escalate as the town council affirms that they are still waiting for the ombudsman to send them his recommendation in Welsh; that the person who filed the complaint was a repeat complainer and that while they have an in-house translator, they do not have a budget for a professional translator or translation service. The villagers, on the other hand, say that while Welsh should be preserved, there are many residents in Cynwyd today who do not know the language and therefore all publications should be bilingual.
While the language row used to be a local affair, it has now reached the point where First Minister Carwyn Jones felt it necessary to intervene. Pressure is being exerted by a language group, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg. They claim that bilingual publications will send a precedent to other councils that use Welsh as their working language to do the same.
The First Minister says that the 2011 Welsh Language Measure has many positive points, but he adds that there is still room to update the guidelines. This, however, has to wait for the May 2017 local government elections.
With this development, Alwyn Jones Parry, the Clerk of Cynwyd Community Council states that this means the council can still continue using Welsh only in their publications. He adds that the ombudsman should withdraw his report. The ombudsman, instead, says that he cannot to base his public interest report on something that is yet to be written.