TWO street signs that only display names in English have fallen foul of Welsh language rules as additional information isn’t displayed bilingually. 

While English only street names are allowed a council has been found to have breached Welsh language legislation firstly by failing to use the Welsh words for “leading to”, which also appeared on the signs, and then placing the corrected wording in the wrong order, with the English first. 

A member of the public had complained to the Welsh Language Commissioner and provided photographs of the street signs and while the commissioner had initially ruled there was no need for an investigation, after receiving the complaint in September 2022, the decision was reconsidered after the complainant said they wanted that refusal referred to the Welsh Language Tribunal. 

As a result the commissioner opened an investigation and has now found Torfaen Borough Council breached five of its Welsh language standards, the legally binding rules setting out it uses Welsh. 

Torfaen council had defended its policy of only using only the official name on streets signs, in whichever language, and that developments should only have one official name. 

As using only official names is acceptable the commissioner found no breach of the standards in relation to only displaying the names in English but said they would like to note “nothing prevents the council from registering Welsh names for these streets, which would then allow it to add Welsh names to the signs”. 

However the commissioner said the failure to provide the Welsh for “leading to” was in breach of the standards. 

The commissioner said the council had failed to provide evidence it had “conscientiously considered” the effect revising the street naming policy could have on the Welsh language. 

The council now has three months to comply with the commissioner’s requirements for further action that includes training and guidance for staff on the standards including use of the words “leading to” as an example of the type of information that must be translated. 

It also has to provide evidence that it has, as it said, corrected the sign which had listed the English text before the Welsh.