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Court rules against language campaigner over English-only parking notice

13 May 2024 3 minute read
Supporters of the language campaigner Toni Schiavone outside the court.

A court in Aberystwyth has ruled against the language campaigner Toni Schiavone and has allowed parking company One Parking Solution to claim costs in an extended legal dispute over an English-only parking notice.

Following the verdict, Mr Schiavone said he will continue to refuse to pay until he receives a copy of the notice from the parking company in Welsh.

According to the judge, there was no legal basis to force the parking company to provide a Welsh language service. Language campaigners insist that this demonstrates a “serious flaw” in the legislation that protects the rights of Welsh speakers.

Mr Schiavone received the original charge in September 2020 for parking in a private car park in Llangrannog, but refused to pay as he did not receive the charge in Welsh or bilingually, despite sending the company two letters as well as calling them.

Technical issues

The first two cases were thrown out over technical issues, but at a hearing on 26 January this year, One Parking Solution won an appeal to continue to prosecute Mr Schiavone, after the judge ruled that there were no grounds to throw out the first two cases of the court.

Mr Schiavone said: “The Welsh language is an official and equal language in Wales and we as Welsh speakers have rights according to the law, and in principle, that should be respected.

The request for a Parking Charge Notice in Welsh or bilingually is reasonable and practical. It would have cost around £60 to translate.

“This case could have been resolved very easily and very quickly by providing a Welsh or bilingual Parking Charge Notice. Does not doing so show prejudice against the Welsh language? In my opinion, it does.”

Behaved threateningly

Mr Schiavone told the court that the claimant had behaved threateningly, sending him a letter claiming £10,156.70 in legal expenses a day before his hearing in January as well as another letter with additional costs of over £4,000 two days before today’s case.

According to research by Cymdeithas yr Iaith, translating the fine into Welsh would have cost only £60.

The judge Lowri Williams said that Toni had behaved in an “honest, principled” manner during the case, and had shown an “unwavering dedication to the Welsh language and the cause for the language.”

However, she said during her verdict that there was nothing in the 1967 Welsh Language Act, the 1993 Welsh Language Act, or the 2011 Welsh Language Measure to compel the parking company to provide a Welsh language service.

She therefore ordered that Toni pay the £100 charge, as well as £70 for administrative costs, £11.90 interest and £85 for the court fee within 21 days.

After explaining her ruling and order, Toni Schiavone said “I understand, but I refuse to pay.” His statement was met by applause from his supporters in the public gallery.

Following the case, Siân Howys, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Rights Group, said: “Today’s judgment shows that – despite the Welsh Government’s claim – the Welsh language does not have equal status in Wales. The judge has done her work thoroughly and found that there is nothing in the legislation that ensures that Toni’s right to use his own language in his own country is respected.

“It is clear, therefore, that the Welsh Government needs to correct the serious flaw in the legislation in order to ensure that the people of Wales can use the Welsh language in all aspects of their lives.”


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Zam
Zam
1 day ago

Dal dy dir Toni. Gwna’n siwr mae’r cwmni yn gwneud colled, y diawliaid afiach.

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 day ago

Thin end of the wedge. I’d go to prison over this. All they had to do was agree to his request for a bill in Welsh.

Riki
Riki
1 day ago
Reply to  Rhosddu

And I would, it’s principle. This says everything about how our land and our language is belittled to no end. I would gladly spend the rest of my days banged up over something this trivial, as I said it’s about the principle of having a foreign language imposed on me.

Aled
Aled
1 day ago

this is why we need control of our laws and judiciary.Dal ati Toni.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 day ago

No judgement on the Judge here, so to speak, as she must interpret the law as it stands and if the law is an ass, it needs its’ ass whipped. I am shocked to find out that the ‘equal status’ our language had – and it did – appears to have been eroded by stealth. That is why it is so important to fight this to the bitter end and I would like to forward my thanks and appreciation to Tony Schiavone and Cymdeithas yr Iath for digging in there to get back what I thought we already had. (Toni… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 day ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Iaith. Mae’n ddrwg gen I.

Riki
Riki
1 day ago

Isn’t this supposed to be Cymru? Not England light!!! Our language is here to stay wether the Anglo likes it, and wether the self hating part time taffs dislike it too. This is beyond a joke! Situations like this show exactly the intent with English, they are using it to replace the British language. That’s the aim!!! And no one can argue against that point

Last edited 1 day ago by Riki
U turn if U wish
U turn if U wish
1 day ago

With the Welch Tory party supporting a public discourse which ananymous others read as defacto permision to deface and remove 20mph road signs – im sure ARTD and Lady U Turn of Llandudno Prom will be rushing to support her constituent Toni who always steps up to the mark on matters of principle.

Gwyn Hopkins
Gwyn Hopkins
1 day ago

The Beasley family in Llangennech won this battle against the former Llanelli Borough Council in the 1950s! I was under the impression that Welsh was legally made an official language in Wales along with the imperial language more than 10 years ago. This is clearly not the case and it is high time the Welsh Government intervened to ensure/insist that for all companies operating in Wales both languages must be shown equal respect.

Riki
Riki
1 day ago
Reply to  Gwyn Hopkins

Agree, but they say one thing and do another. They are puppets, we shouldn’t kid ourselves! If they meant what they said and their pledge for a million speakers, how do things like this help with that aim? They would definitely be acting!

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
1 day ago
Reply to  Gwyn Hopkins

It was Llanelly [sic] Rural District Council which the Beasley’s took action against. The difference lies in that Llanelly RDC was a public body providing a statutory service, not a private company. Don’t shoot the messenger here, but despite the notion that Welsh is equal to English within Wales, it is simply not that case. That Welsh doesn’t legally have equal status can been seen whenever you do some as simple as buy a Mars bar. Private companies are under no obligation to provide goods and services in Welsh. The ingredients list and allergens information on a Mars bar sold… Read more »

Tom
Tom
1 day ago

This is clearly a case of a sympathetic judge being stopped by weak legislation

Why vote
Why vote
1 day ago

Welsh government should hang its head in shame all the legislation thaught to be in place is of no use to the public of wales totally incompetent what next 20mph is not legally binding.

richard
richard
1 day ago

None of the comments here is asking the obvious question – which worries me. Why is a private company, beyond the jurisdiction of the Welsh Language Measure 2011, running a public car park in Llangrannog, home of yr Urdd and Bois y Cilie? Answers to [email protected]

Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
1 day ago

He should now pay these pirates and start a campaign against all organisations which do not provide Welsh language documents.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 day ago

One Parking Solution ? Maybe it’s time for some direct action at their offices. They tend to wake up when the roof gets blown off !

Grievous
Grievous
1 day ago
Reply to  hdavies15

My sentiments exactly take a leaf out of the MAC of the 1960s target their offices.

Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas
1 day ago

Finish them by refusing to use their car park areas. I’m a Welshman and a proud one and this to me spells inequality in a world that just refuses to give up the old school ways. Why is it that whenever you buy an item in the UK that requires assembly, the languages are all foreign and no Welsh included? Why do foreigners have rights to support their language but we have less!

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
1 day ago
Reply to  Andrew Thomas

It’s because the manufacturers are under obligation to include those languages in the nations that they sell in.
One curious thing you will notice though is that despite having had an entire century to get round to it the Irish have never mandated it for their own official language.

Riki
Riki
21 hours ago
Reply to  Andrew Thomas

Because of their ancient cause of replacing the Native language with a Germanic foreign one. Simply calling the Anglo British is enough for foreigners to think ancient Brythonic records are relating to the English, and not the Cymry. This is why they keep referring to their Kings prior to 1707 as British, they want foreigners to agree to our history being theirs. When you compound this with The people of Wales not being taught their history, you have a recipe for disaster.

Grievous
Grievous
1 day ago

That judge is wrong Welsh has an equal standing with English ,the Welsh Government should be all over this considering the statutory law that Welsh has equal status ,here we ho again there is a need to remind the judiciary of the need for welsh to be treated with equal standing as stated in the Welsh language act ,THIS ISNT ENGLAND.Bring Back the M.A.C.

Last edited 1 day ago by Grievous
Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
1 day ago
Reply to  Grievous

The problem is that the judge isn’t wrong. The problem is is that the judge is right. Look in your cupboards at home. Virtually everything you’ve bought has ingredients listed, allergens information, cooking instructions in English and with no Welsh. How many electrical goods you own had a Welsh language manual? Is your car handbook in Welsh? The moment you take a few moments to look about you it becomes obvious that Welsh doesn’t have equal status. If it did then none of this would be true. As I said elsewhere, don’t shoot the messenger, if what I say is… Read more »

Riki
Riki
21 hours ago
Reply to  Richard Thomas

There are no protections for English in any country of the UK. The only language protected under any law within the UK is Cymraeg. And only in Wales!!!!

DiBen
DiBen
1 day ago

I suppose it makes perfect sense for a company to claim it spent £14,000 bringing a claim to court for just £100 and the judge awarding them a tiny fraction of that!

Riki
Riki
21 hours ago
Reply to  DiBen

Shows you what their real aim is, it’s about putting the people of Wales in their place and to persuade them that their language is of no use. When it’s frankly the opposite. It has major importance for all of British history!

Finn
Finn
9 minutes ago

A rape of a fair country again we are victimised by England’s courts and so it goes on,dim rhoi mewn ir diawled.FWA.!!

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