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Council U-turns on plans to scrap Welsh translations on street signs

25 Jan 2024 3 minute read
Street signs will continue to bilingual after a decision to no longer translate English only names was formally reversed. Photo LDRS

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

A council which scrapped a policy to translate street names to Welsh when new signs are installed has formally reversed the decision.

Monmouthshire County Council was found to have fallen foul of its Welsh language standards when it agreed, in December 2021, to discontinue translations.

It had previously translated names when new signs were put up and the council’s cabinet member for highways, Councillor Catrin Maby, has now confirmed a U-turn to return to the policy abandoned in 2021.

The council has said it has continued with providing signs with both Welsh and English names since the decision, by the Welsh Language Commissioner, in August 2022 that the policy adopted at the end of the previous year had been introduced in breach of its Welsh language standards.

Welsh language standards

Although the previous policy, that has now been reinstated, to provide bilingual street signs went above and beyond the commissioner’s requirement – as the body has said it is acceptable to provide English only replacement signs – the decision was a breach of the council’s agreed Welsh language standards.

That is because abandoning Welsh translations meant the council was doing less for the benefit of the language than it had previously and reversed “progressive action” in relation to Welsh.

The commissioner, who became involved following a complaint from a member of the public, said the council had failed to give proper consideration to how its decision would impact the Welsh language.

The 2021 decision which allowed street signs to be replaced on a ‘like for like’ basis – which meant many would be monolingual only – was taken when the council was controlled by the Conservatives and done so due to concern new bilingual nameplates would not be replicated on the official address gazetteer.

The council put the policy in place pending clarification whether bilingual signs are required. The commissioner has since confirmed replacement signs needn’t be translated.


Labour member Cllr Maby has now approved reverting to the policy in use before December 2021 that when replacement or additional street nameplates are required for existing streets with monolingual English names, the signs will be bilingual with the Welsh first.

There is no change to the policy for naming new streets, which will continue to be Welsh only or bilingual Welsh and English names but never English only.

The Street Naming and Numbering Policy has been re-arranged, and a new section inserted to cover Welsh language considerations.

The Welsh translation of replacement signs now be added to the Gazetteer and a report also confirmed that translations aren’t new names, meaning steps such as a consultation with all residents aren’t required.

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5 months ago

It’s shameful that they even thought of doing it. Lots of people living in Monmouthshire hate the fact that they are Cymry.

Mr Jones
Mr Jones
5 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Most people born in Monmouthshire are proud to be Welsh.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
5 months ago

Bizarre that the Language Commissioner could even state that English only replacement signs are acceptable. I’m aware that this is of course a statement of the legal position, but surely the law needs to be changed, if that is the case?

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
5 months ago

Yes Frank this is the divide that separates Cymru as long as it is emphasised it will get wider. Work with the people of Wales who may have a different opinion.

Mr Jones
Mr Jones
5 months ago

Are Welsh language street names translated into English?

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