‘Bulls***’: Ex-police boss slams Tory council’s move to keep street signs English-only
A former police boss has slammed a Tory council for its move to keep some street signs English-only.
Arfon Jones, who was North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, as well as a Police Control Room supervisor, has described the justification of “safety benefits” used by Monmouthshire County Council to change its policy as “bulls***”.
A report by the council recommended that replacement or additional signs on existing streets be kept English-only, and it uses a hypothetical example of a Welsh speaker calling emergency services to justify the policy.
It suggests a Welsh place name could lead to a dangerous delay if it does not officially exist in the National Land and Property Gazetteer, which is used by the emergency services. The report claims that keeping English-only signs “will reduce the chances of confusion”.
The report adds the monolingual language policy relates only to existing named streets, and that streets on new developments will be bilingual or in Welsh only.
The move by Monmouthshire County Council reverses the council’s previous policy, which was to add a Welsh translation to a nameplate to comply with its Welsh Language Scheme.
Arfon Jones said: “As a former Police Control Room supervisor I can assure that the Welsh speaking public that the register used to update our information have new names added regularly whether Welsh or English. There is no excuse for this discrimination.
“Gwent Police cover all the local authorities in Gwent and they respond adequately to Welsh place names in BG, Torfaen, Caerphilly and Newport so why not Monmouthshire?
“Same applies to the all Wales Ambulance and the South Wales and Gwent Fire Service. Its bulls*** by a an authority who is hostile to the Welsh language. I feel a complaint coming on.”
The report council’s says: “The negative impact of reducing potential use of the Welsh language by translating existing street names is offset by the safety benefits for emergency services.
“This proposal aims to standardise the provision of street nameplates in line with recommendations by the Welsh Language Commissioner. It will reduce the chances of confusion around road names, particularly where the Welsh version is significantly different to the English. This will particularly benefit groups such as those with learning disabilities, dementia and visual impairment.”
In response to a story on Nation.Richard John, the Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, said: “Sad to see this sensationalist and misleading click bait. Our street signs are fully bilingual but the Welsh Language Commissioner has published guidance (adopted by many other Welsh councils) that existing English-only street names can remain.”
Paul Matthews, the CEO of Monmouthshire County Council said: “Gosh – ‘happy new year’ didn’t last long. I don’t imagine a headline of ‘council adjusts its policy to comply with Welsh Language Commissioner direction’ would have been quite so ‘clicky popular’.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.