“More needs to be done to ensure that private companies follow the public sector’s lead in erecting bilingual signs,” according to a Plaid member of Carmarthenshire county council. Cllr Arwel Lloyd was speaking after being told at a meeting that the planning regulations could not be used to require companies to erect bilingual signs.
Cllr Lloyd told the council that Carmarthen’s Civic Society had written to one company urging them to make their signage bilingual, but had received a response to the effect that the company has all its signage for the whole of the UK prepared centrally, and was not prepared to erect different signs in Wales.
“This shows a complete lack of respect for and understanding of the nature of the country in which they are operating,” said Cllr Lloyd. “Wales is a bilingual country, and in this county, Welsh is spoken by the majority. It is simply not acceptable that large companies can simply disregard that fact.”
Cllr Lloyd has now asked Nerys Evans AM to explore whether the National Assembly can change the planning regulations to give local councils the authority to insist on bilingual signage. Ms Evans said, “I will be asking for a change in these regulations. This is a small step to take, but it gives greater visibility and status to our language. And the additional cost of making the signs bilingual when they are first erected is minimal.”
The proposal also received strong support from Plaid’s parliamentary candidate, John Dixon, who added, “For companies to say that they wish to keep all their signs the same is a silly and dishonest argument. Many of the large companies operating in Wales already operate in a number of other countries, and in every case they adapt their signs to include the local language. There is no justification for them to treat Wales and the Welsh language any differently.”