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Council Street Signs Fail Welsh Language Regulations

Welsh and English were put the wrong (Credits: Yahoo News UK)

Two street signs in Wales displaying only English names have violated Welsh language regulations because they lack bilingual information.

While it’s okay to have English-only street names, a council has been found to violate Welsh language laws. They first failed to use Welsh words for “leading to” on the signs. Then, when they corrected it, they put the English first instead of the Welsh.

A citizen reported this to the Welsh Language Commissioner, providing photos of signs showing “Taynes leading to Ladybench” and another saying “West Roedin leading to Offway and East Roedin Shop” in Cwmbran.

Welsh-first road signs (Credits: South Wales Argus)

Initially, the commissioner didn’t see a need for an investigation. But after the complainant asked for the decision to be reviewed, the commissioner agreed to look into it. The investigation found that Torfaen Borough Council broke five Welsh language standards, legally binding rules about using Welsh.

Apart from failing to provide Welsh words on the signs and putting English first, the council also didn’t consider how its decisions might affect Welsh. The council defended its policy of using only official names on signs in any language and argued that developments should have one official name.

The commissioner found no problem with using only official names. However, they noted that the council could register Welsh names, allowing them to add Welsh to the signs.

However, not including Welsh for “leading to” violated the standards. The council added the Welsh words later, but the commissioner said Welsh should be positioned to be read first if it’s the same information as English.

villagers left confused after road signs appear in Welsh (Credits: Somerset Live)

Until 2018, the council translated street names but only used official names. They say they encourage Welsh names in new developments and treat Welsh and English equally.

But the commissioner said switching back to only official names led to removing most Welsh names from signs, which was not carefully considered. The council didn’t show how their policy could help the Welsh.

They also failed to protect unofficial Welsh street names, another standards breach. Now, the council has three months to follow the commissioner’s requirements, including staff training on standards and evidence of sign corrections.

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