The Wasting Mule online today has the news that leader of Wales’ largest council has caused uproar in Welsh language circles by claiming Welsh is not part of the “social fabric” of the capital city.
Cardiff council’s Labour leader Phil Bale made the statement during correspondence with Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, the Welsh Language Society, about Cardiff’s Local Development Plan (LDP).
Writing on behalf of the council Mr Bale stated:
“[On] the basis of the evidence presented, this response comes to the conclusion that the use of the Welsh language is not part of the social fabric [of the city], in accordance with national guidelines.
“This means that it is not considered that development proposals which are noted in the Plan materially affect the linguistic balance of communities across Cardiff, at the expense of the use of the language.
“As a result, I understand it is not considered that any specific policies are necessary in the Plan to deal with the specific interests of the Welsh language.”
In response, Carl Morris (No relation to this author) wrote to the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of Cymdeithas yr Iaith.
“It must be said that this claim is daft and completely ignorant, and obviously raises questions which need to be answered in terms of the attitude and the policy of the authority and its officers.
“We are not of the view that the remark reflects the support of the present leader of the council for the language, but rather the ignorance of officers in the planning department.
“We ask you to insist that the council, in its development plan, considers the Welsh language in terms of its status, requirements in terms of new schools and education provision, and its place in our communities.”
Mr Morris said there were a number of areas in the city where the Welsh language was strong, but it was thought that the desire of people in the city to see the Welsh language strengthen should also be considered.
He said: “
The support of people right across the city is reflected in the demand for Welsh-medium education.
“In addition, and although we are not of the view that percentages or numbers of speakers should decide whether consideration is given to the Welsh language in the plan or not, it’s clear, not only from the tens of thousands of Welsh speakers who live, visit and work in the city, but also the number of places where Welsh is the main language used in the city – from chapels and schools to social spaces – that Welsh is a vital part of the social fabric of the capital city.
“You will be aware a number of developments that have been given English-only names over the years – from Assembly Square to Central Square.
“Giving private developments English-only names undermines the status and use of the language. Furthermore, there are a number of new English-only street names and monolingual signs which are part of new developments.
“These will have a negative effect on the use and status of the language as well.”
A Cardiff council spokesman, said:
“The LDP is currently being examined by the Welsh Government Planning Inspector. The Welsh language has been considered as part of the examination process.Nevertheless the choice of words by Mr Bale that Welsh is not part of the “social fabric" is insulting coming from our Capital City.
“The wording that is quoted by the Welsh Language Society – is technical language – taken from a national planning guidance document.
“Unfortunately, the wording has been used selectively in this instance, as it fails to show the full context on how the wording was used in this planning document.
“It is disappointing that this issue has been raised so late. Ample opportunity has been given for everyone who wants to, to comment through the consultation process.
There has always been a feeling that Cardiff wants to Boer Capital without actually part of of Wales.
It is reflected in Mr Bale plans for Cardiff and Bristol are to work more closely to help compete for future investment.
I do not expect for Cardiff to give thought on housing developments and other planing issues on the Welsh language in the same way as Gwynedd does.
and as Mr Morris pointed out it should reflect this in the use of street names for instance.
But it should aim to use Welsh as much as possible to reflect it status.