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Council unable to display monolingual ‘stoma friendly’ toilet stickers

26 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Image by David Rinehart from Pixabay

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

A council cannot display stickers to let people with a stoma know its toilets are suitable as they are printed in English only.

Monmouthshire County Council took steps last year to ensure toilets in its buildings, such as leisure centres, could meet the ‘Stoma Friendly’ standard which includes having hooks for hanging clothes when changing stoma bags, space to lay out medical supplies and a bin for disposal of the bags those with a stoma use for collecting their bodily waste.

Charity Colostomy UK has provided the council with stickers to show the toilets are accessible and remind others “not all disabilities are visible” to reduce the risk of hostility towards users without an obvious physical impairment.

But David Jones, the council’s head of public protection, said he can’t put up the pack of stickers he has on his desk.

Welsh Language Act

“I’ve been in contact with Colostomy UK and I’ve got a pack of 50 or 60 stickers but we can’t put them up as they are not bilingual so because of the Welsh Language Act we can’t put them up,” Mr Jones told members of the place scrutiny committee which a year ago asked for action on adapting toilets for those with a stoma.

He added he had raised the issue with the charity, and thought it likely others would have as well, but said if it couldn’t provide bilingual English and Welsh stickers the council could do so internally but warned there would be a cost to that.

Mr Jones said he hoped the issue could be resolved soon so the stickers can be put up: “We are just waiting for the bilingual signs and as soon as we get them we can crack on with that but we can’t put up just English or someone will criticise us.”

Committee chair, Portskewett councillor Lisa Dymock raised concern at the delay.

She said: “I appreciate we need to have bilingual signage, and how important it is we have English and Welsh, but to not put up the English version when we have them, I’m not sure, we will be letting down English speaking residents who require these facilities.”

Adding stickers

The Conservative asked if adding stickers in Welsh later could form part of the council’s action plan to allow it to use the stickers it already has.

But Mr Jones replied: “If we put them up someone will ring us up to say we are not complying with the Welsh Language Act.”

He added the council has bilingual National Toilet Strategy logo stickers to alert people publicly accessible toilets are available.

Abergavenny Labour councillor Tudor Thomas said he was “surprised” there was “so much discussion about the Welsh language”.

The Park ward member said: “We are in Wales and come under the Welsh Language Act and this is something we should be able to sort out even if we have to produce it in house.”

Independent councillor for Wyesham, Emma Bryn, who had raised the issue of Stoma Friendly toilets last year said she was “delighted” progress had been made by updating toilets in leisure centres. Mr Jones said adapting traditional toilet blocks is a “struggle”.

The council is also supporting a ‘Boys Need Bins Too’ campaign to provide sanitary bins in men’s toilets required by those with conditions such as prostate cancer.

A spokesman for Monmouthshire County Council said Colostomy UK intends providing it with bilingual stickers.

The spokesman said: “This is a national campaign, so it’s important that the messaging is consistent nationally. The national organisation can’t confirm when the bilingual signs will be available, but we expect them later in 2024.”

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Cymro Penperllenni
Cymro Penperllenni
14 days ago

It’s not the Welsh Language Act 1993, it is now the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 which is the current piece of legislation.

14 days ago

Display these stickers as a temp measure and get an equal number of notices yn y Gymraeg on order to get full compliance. This is not a big deal unlike the abusive attitude of some banks and big corporations towards our language.

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