County decrees that all new street names must be in Welsh

Welsh street sign. Photo via Google

Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter

A county has decreed that all new street names must be in Welsh and people’s names will only be used for roads after exceptional feats, like those of Captain Sir Tom Moore.

Denbighshire council agreed the new street naming policy during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, which revealed the difficult choices officers have to make when deciding if a street should be named after an individual.

The practise of naming roads after people will now be something the council only pursues in the most extraordinary of circumstances, said lead member for corporate services Cllr Richard Mainon.

Referring to recent issues with HM Stanley, he said: “As times change these names don’t stand the test of time and there’s a lot of work needed to change them.”

He said officers were also put in a “very difficult position” when the families of servicemen who had fallen asked for streets to be named after loved ones and looked into whether this was something armed services bodies would embrace.

Cllr Mainon said he was surprised to find that naming streets after fallen servicemen – except when they had excelled or received the highest awards for their service – was not something those bodies supported.

Performance and programme systems administrator Emma Jones told the cabinet meeting: “It’s the street naming officer who bears the burden of whether a person is worthy of having a street named after them.

“It’s a heavy burden and we need to remove the normalisation of naming streets after individuals.”

‘Emotional’

Alan Smith, head of business improvement and modernisation, said: “It’s a very emotional issue. It’s very difficult to discuss someone’s relative worth.

“It’s a very difficult debate to have. The assumption of the policy that we don’t (name streets after individuals) is correct – it could be up to the council to vary the policy in the right case.

“Occasionally the committee might decide to override that.”

Cllr Mainon added: “If something of national importance happens like Sir Tom Moore, that’s extraordinary.

“The fact it only happens once in a generation makes it special. I think if the policy says let’s not (name streets after individuals) that’s workable.”

Additionally the authority’s street naming policy will now follow Cardiff council’s example of naming all new roads using the Welsh language.

It was a move praised by the Welsh Language Commissioner after being adopted by Cardiff council.

The change in Denbighshire council’s policy was driven by criticism at a performance scrutiny committee meeting in 2019 when members said it needed reviewing – especially with regard to the Welsh language.

After a review by the authority’s Welsh language officer the policy was sent to the Welsh Language Commissioner’s office who mentioned Cardiff’s adherence to Welsh language only street naming.

Denbighshire decided to make the change and follow the same principle.

Cabinet members endorsed the changes to the policy.

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