Welsh language signage ‘risk to lives’

The Telegraph newspaper has said that Welsh language signage could constitute a “risk to lives”.

The dire warning of the fatal effects of having bilingual signs came after a report by a Welsh council cited the “safety benefits” of English-only signs.

The report by Monmouthshire Council suggested a Welsh place name could lead to delay if it does not officially exist in the National Land and Property Gazetteer, which is used by the emergency services

The report said that keeping English-only signs “will reduce the chances of confusion”. 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.”

However, the Telegraph newspaper interpreted this advice as a warning that bilingual signage “would put lives at risk”.

“The Welsh government has banned a border county from using English-only street signs despite being warned it would put lives at risk,” they said.

On Monday the council’s English-only sign policy fell foul of the Welsh Language Commissioner’s office who said that the council’s previous policy of replacing English-only signs with bilinguals ones was the right one.

Gwenith Price, Deputy Commissioner for the Welsh Language, said: “Organisations should not take decisions to do less for the Welsh language than they previously did, or to do the minimum where more progressive action in relation to the Welsh language was already being made.

“The suggestion repeatedly made by the Council that the policy had been amended to ‘comply’ with the Code of Practice is wrong and goes against the spirit of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 and the role of the Welsh Language Commissioner.”

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