WELSH LANGUAGE COCK UP OVER MAGISTRATES' IT COSTS EXTRA £4M

February 12, 2009 12:00 AM

Today, Jenny Willott, Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, released information showing that the Ministry of Justice is having to spend an extra £4 million upgrading the massively over-budget and hugely delayed 'Libra' case management computer system for Magistrates' Courts so that it can issue court summonses in Welsh as well as English.

The 'Libra' project began in 1998 and was designed to create a more efficient standardised national system for Magistrates' Courts. However, a Parliamentary Question from Miss Willott revealed that the system only came online in December 2008 at a cost of £444m - 7.5 years late and £260m over budget.

Further questions from Miss Willott revealed that the system does not include a bi-lingual version for issuing court summonses in Welsh, forcing Welsh speakers to apply specially for Welsh translations. A bi-lingual version of Libra won't be available until September 2009 at a further cost of £4m.

Commenting, Jenny said:

"It beggars belief that the Government simply forgot to include the Welsh language in the contract.

"How can Labour claim to be representing the needs of everyone in Wales when such a basic requirement for Welsh speakers goes unnoticed for an entire decade?

"Fixing this problem is going to add further to the taxpayers' bill for this shambolic IT project and will leave Welsh speakers having to ask for special translations until September.

"But given that the Ministry of Justice hasn't even finalised the contracts for the bi-lingual upgrade, what confidence can we have that this won't be subject to further cost overruns and massive delays?

"The Libra project is renowned for being one of the government's worst run IT projects ever. It is more than seven years late and has cost more than double what it was supposed to.

"This fundamental and most basic failure seriously damages Labour's proclaimed commitment to the Welsh language. I wonder if this is the only Welsh language skeleton in the Government's closet."

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