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‘Let people change Welsh language house names’, says Tory Senedd candidate

23 Jan 2021 4 minute read
House sign

A Tory Senedd candidate has argued that people should be allowed to change the name of their house from Welsh to English.

Calum Davies, a lobbyist for the private rented sector who is contesting the constituency seat of Cardiff Central at the upcoming Senedd election, accused those who wanted to protect Welsh names of being “nosy nationalists”.

Mr Davies, who does not believe Wales should have its own parliament, shared his views on the matter on Conservative Home. He insisted that he has “no desire” to see Welsh house names anglicised, but that he loves “property rights”, which he says can be traced to Magna Carta, the royal charter of rights agreed to by King John of England in 1215.

Eluned Morgan, the Minister for the Welsh language, recently told the Senedd that she has a “great deal of sympathy” with those who believed homeowners should be banned from the practice of changing them. She was responding during a debate in the Senedd after over 18,000 people signed a petition calling for a law.

Plaid Cymru MS Dai Lloyd, presented a Bill to the Senedd in 2017 seeking to protect historic place names in Wales, which was rejected at the time by the Welsh Government.

‘Welsh language’

Mr Davies said: “For those that do not keep to date with the quagmire of fringe arguments played on the turf of Welsh nationalists, you will have missed the traditional resurrection of the debate on Welsh language place names that seems to arrive each year.

“Essentially, there are those out there who are passionate about protecting those places with Welsh language names from having their names changed to a name that is divorced from the linguistic heritage of the location.

“For example, Cwm Cneifion in North Wales has become ‘Nameless Cwm’ and Fferm Faerdre Fach in the South is now called ‘Happy Donkey Hill’. But there are less concrete examples such Porth Trecastell and Lamor Llan or Traeth Dynion in Angelsey, which have respectively often become known as ‘Cable Bay’ and ‘The Creek’.

“Thousands have signed petitions to prevent this, but how do you legislate against what people call it informally? The ‘Thought Police’ accusations write themselves.

“Some, including the Welsh National Party (set up by an ex-Plaid Cymru politician) in Gwynedd, have proposed charging an ‘astronomical’ £10,000 fee (their word) for the privilege of changing the place name as a deterrent.

“That’s right! On top of all the fees involved in purchasing and maintaining a home, you should be made to pay thousands to choose the name of your own home to placate nosy nationalists who will likely have zero connection to your property and the area surrounding it.

“If you have read these pieces, you will notice that you only see one side of the argument. I am hardly surprised, as to challenge this point of view will lead to the inevitable barrage of pro-independence trolling and accusations of being anti-Welsh language.

“Not only is the tone usually aggressive but so is the language: accusations of ‘linguistic cleansing’ are deployed as if there was a high degree of predetermined malice behind the name changes.

“Well, I write this as a Welsh-speaker who grew up in a house, in a village, near a town – all of which had Welsh names. I have no desire to see them anglicised and their names scrubbed from history. I love my country and my heritage.

“But I also love my property rights. What business is it of government what name I give my house? What business is it of a stranger that does not know me and lives scores or, even, hundreds of miles away what I call my farm?

“One can trace back property rights on these isles back to Magna Carta.”

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