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Garden aims to quell language row

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Feeling the heat: Garden boss aims to ease row.

Feeling the heat: Garden boss aims to ease row.

AFTER being engulfed by a row over its failure to use the Welsh language in signage, the National Botanic Garden of Wales has attempted to fight back against stinging criticism made by Cymdeithas Yr Iaith.

The row began when Iola Wyn, of Ysgubor Bryncaerau near St Clears wrote to the National Botanic Garden pointing out recent marketing emails had been in English only and pointing out that a sign positioned at Foelgastell advertising ‘Easter Fun for all the Family’ was also in English only.

The Garden’s own policy on use of the Welsh language reads: ‘Standard written correspondence with the public in Wales will be bilingual, ensuring that where an individual’s preference is not known, their preference for use of Welsh or English is respected and facilitated’.

The above is in addition to the promise that: ‘Any correspondence in Welsh will receive a reply in Welsh’.

In relation to signs, the policy reads: ‘signage will uphold the principle of equality, with Welsh appearing together with the English in equal prominence’.

The response from David Hardy, the Garden’s Marketing Manager, to Iola Wyn appears to have been in English only and to claim that signs were designed to attract English tourists heading down the M4 corridor at speed.

Iola Wyn’s husband wrote, in Welsh, to the National Botanic Garden taking it to task over its failure to treat Welsh equally. He wrote: ‘Taking into account that you have received support from the Welsh Government and the County Council, we would be interested to know why you’re not in a position to provide material in Welsh, and in Carmarthenshire – the county with the highest number of Welsh speakers in Wales’.

She received a response in English: ‘Thanks for your email. I’m sorry you are not happy with the efforts we are making here to attract new visitors to the Garden. In order to save you from further inconvenience and upset, I am happy to remove your name from my distribution list’.

The high-handed response caused outrage and Cymdeithas Yr Iaith were swift to act. A barrage of complaints to and about the Garden’s approach followed. In a letter to both the First Minister and the leader of Carmarthenshire Council, the Society said: ‘The Garden’s attitude towards the Welsh language is very far from what is expected in the twenty-first century’.

In a letter to the Garden’s director, Dr Rosie Plummer, Cymdeithas said: ‘As a national institution that receives significant public funding and support from the local authority and central government it stands to reason that there should be full Welsh language services available. The response to public complaints about shortcomings in Welsh provision are bordering on arrogant, and it raises significant questions about the attitude of the whole organisation towards the Welsh language’.

Cymdeithas’ key criticism is that the National Garden of Wales regards the last part of its title and the Welsh language as an afterthought.

Responding, Dr Plummer said: “The Garden, as an iconic organisation and environmental flagship for Wales, is very committed to its wide support for the culture, language, and heritage of Wales and makes substantial allocation of resources and effort to this. It is therefore enormously disappointing to be subject to such vigorous approaches that largely seem to overlook the very wide range of ways in which the Garden actively contributes to bringing the unique importance of Wales to everyone who visits. The Garden works hard to offer a warm, Welsh welcome and to promote and develop its language resources to the more than 2 million visitors it has welcomed in just 15 years. Necessarily this effort is constrained, particularly at a time when funding everywhere is extremely tight. Nevertheless, all our press releases, brochures, published materials, and visitor signage are bilingual and we take a great pride in the way in which we present our information and learning, and encourage use of the language in a friendly and engaging way. The Garden hosts many thousands of education visits each year, and offers more than 50 curriculum-linked courses through the medium of Welsh.”

There was no sign in Dr Plummer’s response of an apology to Iola Wyn or her husband for the way in which the Garden dealt with their correspondence.

The Herald contacted the Garden’s media office and asked whether it wished to comment on the way it had responded to Iola Wyn and her husband.

No comment was forthcoming

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Cllr Kevin Madge elected as new county council Chairman

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THE new chair of Carmarthenshire County Council said he will work tirelessly during his term of office.

Cllr Kevin Madge, member for Garnant, takes the chain of office whilst celebrating 40 years as a councillor.

Taking the chair, Cllr Madge paid tribute to outgoing chairman Cllr Mansel Charles, member for Llanegwad, saying he had fulfilled his duties with passion.

Cllr Madge will chair the council for the next 12 months, with Cllr Ieuan Davies, member for Llanybydder, as his vice chair, and his wife Catrin as his consort.

“I’m very much looking forward to the year ahead, I will do my best for everyone. I will work tirelessly,” he said.

Cllr Madge has chosen the Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks and emergency food provision for people in crisis, as his Chairman’s Charity of the Year.

The Chair is the first citizen of Carmarthenshire County Council, and is elected at the Annual General Meeting.

Duties include chairing full meetings of the council, representing the council at formal and ceremonial occasions, welcoming visitors to the county, and attending and supporting events organised by local people and organisations.

Cllr Madge has been a county councillor since 1996, and a member of Cwmaman Town Council since 1979.

He also serves as chairman of the Royal British Legion Garnant branch, Garnant Family Centre and Cwmaman Meals on Wheels, and is a member of Amman Valley League of Friends.

He represents the county council on the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, and the Mynydd y Betws Wind Farm Community Fund, and is on the governing body of Ysgol Y Bedol.

A former pupil of Amman Valley School, Cllr Madge has worked in the Amman Valley throughout his life, most recently as agent and researcher to Dr Alan Williams MP until 2001.

A keen football supporter, he has served as chair and president of Cwmaman Football Club and spent 25 years as a Welsh League and Neath and District football referee.

He is married with two children and three grandchildren.

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‘UK Government should work with the Welsh Labour Government on Tata’

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LOCAL Assembly Member Lee Waters and Nia Griffith MP have called on the UK Government to work with the Welsh Labour Government to come up with a deal to protect steel making at Trostre, and across Wales and the UK.

Lee Waters AM met with representatives from Tata Steel on Wednesday to discuss the future for steel making at the plant following the reported collapse of the proposed joint venture with Thyssenkrupp.

During the meeting he stressed the need to protect the entire steel supply chain in Wales, including the high quality jobs at Trostre, and those that depend on its presence in Llanelli.

Lee Waters AM said “It’s clear that the support Welsh Government provided during the crisis of 2016 has been critical in getting extra investment into Port Talbot which will secure the works for years to come. However, Tata is a company run from India, and we simply don’t know what the board will decide about its future strategy. They may well be looking for a new joint venture partner, so we’ll have to vigilant about the implications for our local plants.”

“Tata has said it intends to continue with its existing business plan, and honor commitments made to the Trade Unions, so Nia and I will be keeping a close eye to make sure that happens.”

Welsh Government has been in active discussions with Tata steel following the collapse of the merger with Thyssenkrupp. In a written statement and during questions on Wednesday, the Welsh Government committed to invest in Welsh steel to protect its future and is looking at a range of measures to assist on energy costs, business rates and procurement of steel for public sector contracts.

Lee Waters AM said “The Welsh Government have given significant support to the steel industry here but it can’t do everything, and we now need the UK Government to work with them to ensure a future for skilled work in the steel industry in Llanelli and elsewhere in Wales.”

Nia Griffith AM said ““This latest news from Tata means yet more uncertainty for steelworkers. Their announcement about keeping Port Talbot is a start, but now we need real commitment from Tata on Trostre.

“We also need close cooperation from the company with the Trade Unions. Lee Waters AM and I will be urging the UK Government to follow Welsh Government in doing everything possible to secure the future of our steel industry.”

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MP and AM call for Trostre certainty after merger fails

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LOCAL ASSEMBLY MEMBER Lee Waters and Nia Griffith MP have called on the UK Government to work with the Welsh Labour Government to come up with a deal to protect steel making at Trostre, and across Wales and the UK.

Lee Waters AM met with representatives from Tata Steel on Wednesday to discuss the future for steel making at the plant following the reported collapse of the proposed joint venture with Thyssenkrupp.

During the meeting he stressed the need to protect the entire steel supply chain in Wales, including the high quality jobs at Trostre, and those that depend on its presence in Llanelli.

Lee Waters AM said “It’s clear that the support Welsh Government provided during the crisis of 2016 has been critical in getting extra investment into Port Talbot which will secure the works for years to come. However, Tata is a company run from India, and we simply don’t know what the board will decide about its future strategy. They may well be looking for a new joint venture partner, so we’ll have to vigilant about the implications for our local plants.”

“Tata has said it intends to continue with its existing business plan, and honor commitments made to the Trade Unions, so Nia and I will be keeping a close eye to make sure that happens.”

Welsh Government has been in active discussions with Tata steel following the collapse of the merger with Thyssenkrupp. In a written statement and during questions on Wednesday, the Welsh Government committed to invest in Welsh steel to protect its future and is looking at a range of measures to assist on energy costs, business rates and procurement of steel for public sector contracts.

Lee Waters AM said “The Welsh Government have given significant support to the steel industry here but it can’t do everything, and we now need the UK Government to work with them to ensure a future for skilled work in the steel industry in Llanelli and elsewhere in Wales.”

Nia Griffith AM said “This latest news from Tata means yet more uncertainty for steelworkers. Their announcement about keeping Port Talbot is a start, but now we need real commitment from Tata on Trostre.

“We also need close cooperation from the company with the Trade Unions. Lee Waters AM and I will be urging the UK Government to follow Welsh Government in doing everything possible to secure the future of our steel industry.”

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