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Crawley Borough Council criticised over translating magazine into Urdu

By Crawley News  |  Posted: March 25, 2013

CRITIC: Communities secretary Eric Pickles wants to cut council spending, and encourage social cohesion

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CRAWLEY Borough Council is continuing to review its translation policy, after it was criticised for spending £600 translating its glossy 12-page magazine into Urdu following a single complaint.

Last week, communities secretary Eric Pickles MP spoke out against the council as he called for translation costs to be slashed to save money, and encourage migrant communities to learn English. And, speaking on Tuesday, Crawley MP Henry Smith criticised the council for a "bad use of money".

The translation of the council magazine into Urdu was first reported by the Crawley News in July last year, but was commented on by the communities secretary as he called for cost cutting.

Mr Pickles said: "Some local authorities translate a range of documents into languages spoken by their residents, and provide interpretation services.

"While there may be rare occasions in which this is entirely necessary – for instance in emergency situations – I am concerned such services are in many cases being provided unnecessarily.

"Such translation services have an unintentional, adverse impact on integration by reducing the incentive for some migrant communities to learn English.

"I understand in Crawley a single person complained.

"The gentleman concerned would be well advised to learn English (and) become an integrated citizen." Mr Pickles added that research had suggested £100 million a year was being spent by the public sector translating a variety of documents.

In response, Mr Smith said: "Crawley Borough Council is going to review its translation service, which is timely.

"There is an issue with social cohesion here. People should be speaking and reading in English.

"Only where it is absolutely necessary should translation be provided. Where people are integrating into society, English should be seen as the first language.

"It's ironic that it is the international language, but that people here cannot speak it."

Borough council leader Bob Lanzer said translation costs at the council were coming down.

He added: "As much as possible we use our own staff to translate and it's rare we have to get someone in. Over the last three years translation costs have halved. There isn't a formal review, but we are continuing to look at the policy."

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