Saturday 22 June 2013



Having listened to the recording again, it is clear that Cllr Callum Higgins inserted the words "need clarification and strengthening" before the rest of his amendment which referred the matter back to the Task and Finish Group.

The rest of this piece has been amended to reflect that, although the outcome was still to kick the matter into the long grass.

Nevertheless, the author of this blog apologises for the error in the original post.


 The Press Office in Carmarthen is no stranger to controversy, and this week it was back on form once again with what has to be one of the most misleading and dishonest press releases imaginable (see below). The subject was the debate at the June meeting of the council on the Welsh language and planning.

In its motion, Plaid called on the Welsh Government to substantially strengthen TAN20 (the planning guidelines which deal with the language) and to set up a statutory body to handle language impact assessments.

Labour responded with an "amendment" (see below for the texts of the motion and the amendment) which simply said that the whole issue should be left to a cross-party Task and Finish group.

Given that Carwyn Jones has asked for input from interested parties and that the Welsh Government is expected finally to set out its plans on the matter this autumn, the effect of the amended motion will be to rule out any participation by the County Council in the consultation process because the Task and Finish group will not report until early next year.

Carmarthenshire will not have a say on the future shape of planning policy as it affects the language.

You would never have guessed that from the press release which reads as follows (comments in red):

Carmarthenshire councillors have agreed that current guidance on the impact of planning and development on the Welsh language needs to be clarified and strengthened.

Councillors - debating the issue during Full Council - made reference to the First Minister’s recent call for views on the planning policies and guidelines relating to the Welsh language, which is known as TAN 20. [Yes they did, but they decided to ignore Carwyn Jones's request]

Members of a cross-party Task and Finish group, recently established to look at the Welsh language and Census, have been asked to include the matter in their deliberations.

Having fully investigated the issue, they will then recommend what representations should be made to the Welsh Government. [When it's too late]

Cllr Callum Higgins, who put forward an amendment to a notice of motion submitted to council by Cllr Alun Lenny, said during the meeting: “We are all in agreement that TAN 20 needs to be strengthened". [Not true either judging from some of the comments made by Cllr Higgins' supporters, such as Cllr Giles Morgan.]

The debate was in response to a motion tabled by Cllr Alun Lenny from the Plaid group, which read as follows:

This County Council believes that the present policies and guidelines relating to the Welsh language in the field of planning and development are seriously inadequate and calls on the Welsh Government to: i) substantially strengthen TAN20 (currently being revised) by making a development’s possible impact on the Welsh language a material planning consideration in individual applications; and ii) establish a statutory Agency to objectively assess the possible impact on the Welsh language in individual planning applications in order to advise Local Planning Authorities and make recommendations, if necessary.

After the introductory speeches, Callum Higgins (Lab) rose to introduce an amendment to insert the following words after "planning and development":

 "need clarification and strengthening. The Council asks the recently established cross-party Task and Finish Group on the Welsh Language and the census to include this matter in their deliberations and to make recommendations as to what representations the County Council should make to the Welsh Government in this respect".

Unfortunately this press release was picked up and reprinted in its entirety by at least one local newspaper.

The lesson once again for newspaper editors is to approach County Hall press releases with a extreme caution.


Anonymous said...

I think it is time a few myths were dispelled here.

There is NO link between planning and the Welsh language. TAN20, insofar as far as it seeks to make any such link, can be considered unlawful.

The EU does not allow for matters of language, any language, to hinder in any way whatsoever the free movement of peoples and capital throughout the Union.

Yes, the Welsh language is important and has a right to a degree of protection. But not at the expense of matters more important.

Cneifiwr said...

That handily sums up the attitude of some of Carmarthenshire's county councillors.

What this is about is allowing building according to local need. You and everyone else still have the right to live anywhere you like, but you can't build a new house wherever you like.

If you think this is a uniquely Welsh issue, try getting planning permission for a large housing estate in the Irish Gaeltacht.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10.39 is obviously ignorant of planning restraints and restrictions, particularly as a means of ensuring the vitality of culture and language, as applied in many other European countries, whether they are EC members or not. The Irish Gaeltacht is certainly not the only area where strict planning rules are applied.

Anonymous said...

Strict planning rules are entirely lawful.

Strict planning rules that attempt to use language, race, religion, colour or any number of perceived 'people differences' to determine outcomes are unlawful and can be disregarded at outset.

Indeed, better still, pursue the planners and the local council through the law courts for adequate retribution.

Jac o' the North, said...

Anon 10:39, the legislation you refer to is designed to facilitate the free movement of workers and capital between Member States, it does not concern itself with internal migration within Member States. But there is a European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. So you're wrong on two counts.

Obviously I don't know who you are (though I feel certain I've read the same sentiments expressed in exactly the same way, somewhere else). But I have noticed that many who use the 'Freedom of movement' argument to defend the colonisation of Wales are often anti-European!

Giving us the glorious irony of Ukip Brit nationalists selectively using the laws of an institution they detest! Ewgorralaffinew!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but either this blog is incompetent, or a lie.

The amendment was a follows: insert after planning and development:
Needs clarification and strengthening.
The Council asks the recently established cross-party Task and Finish Group on the Welsh Language and the census to include this matter in their deliberations and to make recommendations as to what representations the County Council should make to the Welsh Government in this respect.

You have doctored the text and I would suggest that people watch the unedited film of the meeting. Before the vote Cllr Higgins clearly reads out the first sentence of the amendment which you have left out.

Anonymous said...

Why did plaid vote in favour of the LDP if they think that there are too many houses?

Anonymous said...

There is a recent court case regarding local affordable housing and Flemish guidelines. The restrictions on planning were rejected by the ECJ. Read the western mail about a month ago.

Cneifiwr said...

Anon @16.24 - that would at least that makes a little more sense. I listened carefully to what he said several times - actually, he said "consensus" rather than census, and managed to fluff the rest of the sentence as well.

Anonymous said...

I suggest 'Jac' has a good read.

Anonymous said...

Have you looked at what the Gaeltacht has done for Irish speakers ? I dont think numbers have increased and in fact worsen

Cneifiwr said...

Anon @18.58 Actually I suggest you read the article - what they were trying to do in Flanders was to limit the right to buy to locals - not what is being suggested here.

Jac o' the North, said...

Anon 18:58, Jac has read it, and agrees with Cneifiwr; no one I know of in Wales is arguing that property can only be sold to local people. Maybe you haven't read the article.

What is being discussed, in Carmarthenshire and elsewhere, is the building of new properties that are clearly surplus to any local demand.

Jac o' the North, said...

Another issue might be whether the ruling would have been different if Flemish was regarded as an endangered language. But with 6.5 million speakers it is clearly not. Even less so if we treat Flemish as a dialect of Dutch (which it is) and remember that there are some 24 million speakers of Dutch (inc. Flemish).

Anonymous said...

What about social housing??? Yes the language is important to us in wales, the provision of social housing for the people of Carmarthenshire that are in dire need of must be addressed.

We do need social housing.... This would not be surplus to demand, ask housing how many people they have on their list awaiting a property or transfer to a more suitable property?

The LDP should have taken the cultural values into account prior to implementation. We need our language!

Anonymous said...

Confused? Is this piece about protecting the language and culture of certain parts of Wales or is it about building properties that are surplus to demand (local or otherwise)?

Jac o' the North, said...

Anon 10:59, You can't make the connection?