Newly-arrived communities have specific need for information in their first language

I take issue with Councillor Alan Lay’s assertion that stopping translating county council information into different languages would encourage integration (letters, February 7).

Before retirement I advised one of the largest unitary authorities in England on equality and diversity policy including how to implement anti-discrimination law.

While a failure to make information available in different languages may breach the statutory duty in British law (since 2000) to promote equality, I do not know of any British or European statutory requirement to specifically print information in different languages.

It is up to service providers and public bodies to determine their own policy on how they meet the British and European legal and statutory framework on race discrimination.

The Government Commission on Integration and Cohesion 10 years ago also looked at the issue of translation and the impact on integration.

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It concluded that while it is not cost-effective and can discourage integration, newly-arrived communities will have a specific need for certain information in their first language.

I can understand local people finding recent change difficult to handle. The speed of change today makes it even more difficult for host communities to come to terms with it.

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But we cannot wish away the present and seek to live in the past. That means we all have to work together and respect each other in order to find ways of ensuring these changes benefit us all.



Wisbech March & District Trades Union Council

Via e-mail

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