Derbyshire council blasted for £35k translation spend

A council which is facing the toughest cuts in its history has been lambasted for spending almost £35,000 on translating documents into foreign languages.
County Hall, Matlock.County Hall, Matlock.
County Hall, Matlock.

Derbyshire County Council spent £22,026 on services for translation during 2013/14 and £12,785 so far in 2014/15, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The council – which needs to save £157million by 2018 – is currently considering several cost-cutting measures for the next year, including scrapping lollipop men and women from 36 sites.

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Lee Rowley, who hopes to be elected Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire at the next election, said: “Here is yet another example of where the council could find savings before cutting lollipop ladies.

“It should not be spending thousands of pounds on translating documents into other languages.

“It just shows that they have the wrong priorities and are playing politics on cutting services.”

Councillor Paul Smith, deputy leader at the council, hit back.

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He said: “I find it absolutely astounding that Mr Rowley can level this criticism at Derbyshire when it is his own Conservative Government causing the pain for local residents by inflicting a massive 27 per cent cut in funding.

“In Derbyshire, every single resident faces a £97 cut in funding next year. It’s not in proportion with the south of the country. For example, Hampshire residents face a £43 reduction. How’s that fair?

“We don’t want to cut any of the school crossing patrols in our area. Previously, it looked like we were going to lose them all, but we’ve worked hard to find funding so that we keep the service at 93 sites.

“Derbyshire is a huge area and we serve more than 750,000 residents. We have a duty to make sure that every single person can understand how to access our services. What kind of message would we be sending out if that wasn’t the case?

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“If Lee really is concerned about cuts to services, he needs to talk to his own political party about providing fair funding for Derbyshire.”

John O’Connell, director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “The cost of translating individual documents and so forth is eye-watering. We should only translate when it’s absolutely necessary.”