A border county is being ordered to add Welsh language signs to its English-only street names – even though it warned it may put lives at risk.
Road chiefs in Monmouthshire changed their policy to allow English-only street names on their signs just a few miles over the England-Wales border.
They flagged up ‘safety benefits’ – in case of confusion with people ringing 999 or emergency services.
It suggested a Welsh place name could lead to a dangerous delay if it does not officially exist in the National Land and Property Gazetteer used by the emergency services
The report for Monmouthshire County Council said: ‘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.
‘It will reduce the chances of confusion around road names, particularly where the Welsh version is significantly different to the English.
Road chiefs in Monmouthshire changed their policy to allow English-only street names on their signs just a few miles over the England-Wales border
Monmouthshire will now have to put up Welsh signs, similar to this one in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in Anglesey
‘This will particularly benefit groups such as those with learning disabilities, dementia and visual impairment.’
Fewer than 10 per cent of people speak Welsh in Monmouthshire, arguably the most Anglicised county in Wales.
However, the Welsh Language Commissioner’s office has said that the council did not comply with legally binding requirements on the use of the Welsh language – and has ordered it to add signs in Welsh to comply with the law.
Gwenith Price, Deputy Commissioner for the Welsh Language, said: ‘The Welsh Language Measure 2011 makes it compulsory for certain organisations to comply with Welsh language standards by considering the opportunities for people to use Welsh and to not treat the Welsh language less favourably than the English language.
‘The Commissioner’s main aim is to promote and facilitate the use of the Welsh language.’