VOICE OF THE FENS: Plain English Campaign is as important now as it was 30 years ago

YOU might have thought an organisation that s been around nearly 30 years and set up with such a simple goal might easily have expected to have shut up shop by now, job done. Not a bit of it, for the Plain English Campaign is every bit as busy now as it w

YOU might have thought an organisation that's been around nearly 30 years and set up with such a simple goal might easily have expected to have shut up shop by now, job done.

Not a bit of it, for the Plain English Campaign is every bit as busy now as it was back then, and in many instances few, if any, lessons have been learned.

Our columnist on the facing page highlights one recent example of what the campaign might use as an example to support their mission statement which is to bring to an end to "gobbledygook, jargon and misleading public information."

The campaign is rightly proud to have helped many government bodies, local, regional or national, but a day spent trawling through the respective documents produced by it matters not who, will harvest a feast of barriers to understanding.


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The absurdity of producing documents, ostensibly to be read by lay members of local councils or other institutions, in anything other than plain English ought to be understood by now but sadly it is not.

Could it be some like penning reports - whether it is from Cambridgeshire County Council, Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire Fire or Police Authorities, or NHS Cambridgeshire - to show up the supposed cleverness of the author?

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Maybe so but equally some might think it's a bureaucratic device to ensure the workings of publicly accountable bodies remain comprehensible only to those trained in some Byzantine sub cultural experience of the English language that bamboozles the rest of us.

Why does it matter and matter so much now? Quite simply because in a few weeks time there are local elections - for Cambridgeshire County Council - and if newcomers are to be persuaded, as the council hope they will, to play a part then they have an obligation to ease the accession into their mystifying world.

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