Council officials urged to drop ‘Harry Potter Speak’

Council officials had their ‘wrists slapped’ in plain English at a local authority committee meeting on Tuesday.

In an unusual and sometimes amusing exchange Councillor Allan Wright, the leader of Moray Council and chair of the policy and resources committee, urged greater use of clear language by officials writing papers for consumption by councillors and the general public.

The call came during discussions on a satisfaction survey used by the local authority to assess the levels of public satisfaction over the work conducted at and by the Council.

When challenged by Councillor Wright the head of the legal and democratic services department, Rhona Gunn, admitted she fully understood concerns over the issue.

Ms Gunn said: “Plain English can be a challenge for lawyers many of whom were trained to use Latin terminology.

“Words that Lawyers are familiar with, like *avizandum, sound more like something from a Harry Potter film to most people. Staff in legal services are alert to these tendencies and will make every effort to think about the language used from the perspective of our customers.”

A former journalist, Councillor Wright said after the meeting that he had tried to make it his business to ensure reports written for councillors and the public were easy to understand.

“A greater understanding of council reports does lead to a greater understanding of the council,” the council leader added.

Note: *Avizandum is a term used in Scots Law and means ‘to consider’.

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