Tory council boss defends English-only street sign policy following backlash
The boss of a Tory council has defended the authority’s English-only street sign policy following an online backlash.
Monmouthshire County Council came under fire after a report recommended that replacement or additional signs on existing streets be kept English-only, citing “safety benefits” to doing so.
The report uses a hypothetical example of a Welsh speaker calling emergency services to justify the policy.
It suggests a Welsh place name could lead to a dangerous delay if it does not officially exist in the National Land and Property Gazetteer, which is used by the emergency services, and claims that keeping English-only signs “will reduce the chances of confusion”.
The move has been slammed as “awful”, but Paul Matthews, the CEO of the council, said the authority was adjusting its policy to “to comply with Welsh Language Commissioner direction”.
Richard John, the Leader of the council insisted that they county’s street signs are “fully bilingual” before adding that guidance published by the Welsh Language Commissioner says “that existing English-only street names can remain.”
The move reverses the council’s previous policy, which was to add a Welsh translation to a nameplate to comply with its Welsh Language Scheme.
The report, which follows updated advice from the Welsh Language Commission, was submitted to Tory councillor Jane Pratt, who is the cabinet member for infrastructure and neighbourhood services.
Ethan Jones said: “If you ever wanted confirmation the Tories are an anti-Wales party, look no further. This is truly awful.”
Non Watcyn said: “Shame on you @MonmouthshireCC. Bilingual signs cause confusion? Nothing but excuses!! Do the right thing – you are a part of Wales get used to it!”
Cat Rees said: “But by this reasoning how do they avoid the issue arising for all bilingual signage added in the future? I would love to see the actual evidence that this is based upon – in the XX number of years when there has been bilingual signage how many times has this happened?”
Kelsey Trevett said: “Welsh is a distinct and important language: the Tories’ blatant disregard for its protection is indicative — as if we needed more signs — of their lack of meaningful understanding about any history which isn’t that of England. The Welsh language must be preserved.
“I should add that the Welsh language is far from just a piece of history: for thousands, it is a primary language, and its attempted erasure by the Tories is a move to alienate communities, putting their safety, communication, and lives at risk in the name of vane nationalism.”
Tomos Barlow said: “Terrible decision by Monmouth Council. The concern of safety is utter rubbish, making a name for a place which may not have had a Welsh place name before is not dangerous or confusing. Weak excuse and just shows the Tories don’t care about the Welsh language.”
In response to a story on Nation.Richard John, the Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, said: “Sad to see this sensationalist and misleading click bait. Our street signs are fully bilingual but the Welsh Language Commissioner has published guidance (adopted by many other Welsh councils) that existing English-only street names can remain.”
Paul Matthews, the CEO of Monmouthshire County Council said: “Gosh – ‘happy new year’ didn’t last long. I don’t imagine a headline of ‘council adjusts its policy to comply with Welsh Language Commissioner direction’ would have been quite so ‘clicky popular’”
The report says: “The negative impact of reducing potential use of the Welsh language by translating existing street names is offset by the safety benefits for emergency services.
“This proposal aims to standardise the provision of street nameplates in line with recommendations by the Welsh Language Commissioner. It will reduce the chances of confusion around road names, particularly where the Welsh version is significantly different to the English. This will particularly benefit groups such as those with learning disabilities, dementia and visual impairment.”
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