A LETTER warning residents about fly-tipping has caused upset among the Goan community.

Swindon Borough Council sent standard letters to householders in the Broadgreen area – where illegal dumping of rubbish is a serious problem – warning them about fly-tipping and the prospect of fines for perpetrators.

It went all round the area, with the English letter on one side, and a translation into Konkani – an Indian language used by people from the state of Goa – on the other.

But it wasn’t translated into any other languages, and Swindonians from Goa, or with Goan heritage, feel they’ve been singled out – as if the council thinks they are causing the problems.

Nelson Carvalho is the chairman of the Swindon Goan Association, which represents the thousands of people of Goan heritage who have made their home in the town.

He said: “People have said to me that they feel as if the council is saying they are the problem.

“If the council were going to translate it into a language from English they should have put it into some of the other languages commonly used in Broadgreen as well. Personally I feel it should just have been in English.

“The majority of the community speak English and we are integrated into the community, so a letter in English would have been fine.

“I don’t disagree with the content of the letter, but it was unfortunate that it was only translated into Konkani if it was translated at all.”

The letter was rendered into Konkani by councillor Imtiyaz Shaikh, himself of Goan origin.

He said: “I was asked to do it as a favour, some months ago and I’d forgotten about it to be honest. I’d assumed the letter was going to be translated into a number of languages, so I can see why people are upset.

“I think the council has good intentions, but I think it should say to the Goan community that it got it wrong. This isn’t a difficult thing to rectify.”

Adorabelle Shaikh, the newly-elected Labour councillor for Central ward, which includes Broadgreen, is also Goan.

She said: “The council’s action to only include the Konkani language has backfired and we are asking it to apologise for hurting feelings. It needs to rectify the situation by communicating the enforcement message in all languages of those communities living within Broadgreen on such a sensitive issue. We want to encourage inclusion and an equal approach without the blame factor.

“Last year residents came together to support a community clean-up which successfully addressed the issue that central Swindon struggles with – chronic fly-tipping, caused by a council that did not prosecute or fine anyone at all.”

The Conservative administration’s cabinet member for place and economy Oliver Donachie defended the letter, saying: “We make no apologies for sending out the letter or its content.

“We produced a letter in English to send to everyone and discussed translations into more than one language at the Broadgreen Community Council meetings. It was mutually agreed not to pursue multiple translations as it would cause further delays to getting the important message out around fly-tipping. It was translated solely in order to get the message to as wide an audience as possible.

“I can understand that if we had put out the letter only in a non-English language then that may have been a problem, but the letter went out in English and there was no targeting of any groups. It was a message agreed with the community and I would urge residents to view the letter in the spirit it was intended which is to try to tackle the chronic fly-tipping issues.

"The point, which is getting lost, is to try and make Broadgreen a better area in which to live.”