Penarth Town Council has decided not to follow the current official Vale of Glamorgan Council policy of giving new streets in the town Welsh-language names.
The matter arose at last night’s Penarth Town Council meeting chaired by the Mayor Cllr Rosemary Cook (Labour St Augustines) at which members considered a report on the naming of new streets in the new housing estate being developed near St Joseph’s school on Sully Road .
The pupils of St Joseph’s School had been invited to suggest names for the new streets and came up with a list of names in English . (Their translated Welsh-language counterparts are alongside)
- Mulberry Close = Clos y Morwydd
- Mulberyy Avenue [sic] = Rhodfa’r Morwydd
- Fox Close = Close [sic] Cadno
- Heron Close = Clos y Creyr
- Kingfisher Close = Clos Glas y Dorlan
A Penarth Council report presented to the councillors by Town Clerk Shan Bowden stated that “The Vale policy for new street names and developments is to adopt the name that is consistent with the heritage and history of the area, encouraging the use of Welsh where appropriate. ”
The Penarth Council report went on to state that “The Council [ i.e. the Vale Council] will consult the Welsh Language Commission to ensure that Welsh street-names are grammatically correct . Street signs will use one language only to avoid confusion “ [ PDN‘s emphasis] .
Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustine’s) – who is known for his forthright views on language issues – asked what the children at St Joseph’s school had suggested.
Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) said he had visited the pupils’ “Cabinet” of St Joseph’s School which represents all its classes (and pointed-out, in parenthesis, that the school also had “Prime Minister“). The “cabinet” had come up with lots of different ideas including the names of several local saints, different types of trees (Cllr Wilson noted however that Penarth already had Cedar Way and Laburnum Way etc) and they had considered poets (again, a seam mined by earlier street-namers in Penarth) . The pupils, he said, had eventually settled on something to do with geography or nature and had drafted a list (see above) of five potential street-names and had sent them to the relevant officer at the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
Cllr Roberts said Cllr Wilson had not quite answered his question. He asked Cllr Wilson whether the children had expressed the proposed names in English or in Welsh or both. Cllr Wilson said they had proposed the names in English.
Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines) said that given the proximity to the Cosmeston area it would be very beneficial if children could be encouraged to learn the names of wildlife, botanical species and creatures in the Welsh Language. The children might “lose out” he said if they did not have some familiarity with “the oldest language in Europe“. Cllr Rapier said he was in favour of the street signs being in Welsh for the benefit of the children’s “linguistic education” and the natural world.
Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said the children had made a good choice – although he noted that the second name on the list was mis-spelled as “Mulberyy”.
Cllr Ernest said he thought the names should be in English because “they will all be new residents moving-in to the houses. There is every likelihood they will be people who are not necessarily indigenous to Wales – and from the developer’s point of view I think they are more likely to be able to sell them [the houses] with the English names than the Welsh. ” Cllr Ernest said that did not mean to say he was against the Welsh names – he took Cllr Rapier’s point – but the bulk of street names in Penarth were in English apart from a few which had been named in Welsh about 10 or 15 years ago. He understood this had caused “quite a lot of problems for the residents living there” . He supported the interpretations and the names as chosen.
Cllr Gwyn Roberts said he had received “some stick in the past” over his comments on the Welsh language. In this particular instance the school children had been asked to suggest names. There did not appear to be any commitment to one language or another . If the council expressed the names as the children had named them, then the council would be recognising the schoolchildren’s contribution .
On the other hand, Cllr Roberts said, if the proposed street names were “expressed in the Welsh language – where the learning experience is pretty minimal – it’s just four words at the end of the day – then we really are not respecting those children” . The children would like to see their suggestions on street names . “We owe it to the children to respect what they chose” said Cllr Roberts as he seconded Cllr Ernest’s motion in favour of English.
Cllr Rapier – who had advocated the use of Welsh names – noted that “3,000 cars an hour find their way to ‘Stuttgarter Strasse’ in Cardiff “ without getting lost. Cllr Ernest said his concern was that visitors – not residents – could get lost.
The Mayor Cllr Rosemary Cook, summing up, said the consensus appeared to be that – as suggested by Cllr Roberts – the council should “recognise the children’s contribution”. [i.e. recommend that the English-language names be adopted for the new streets on the estate.] .