Pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith has protested against the multi-million pound Central Square development in Cardiff and its lack of Welsh language signs.
The group criticised builders Rightacres because the name of the project was English-only. All the signs on the firm’s hoardings are also English-only.
At a demo on the site on Saturday afternoon, choir Cor Cochion sang in Welsh to passers-by as bemused builders watched from site offices.
This is what worries the group:
“We’re really concerned the name Central Square is English-only, as are the signs,” Carl Morris, chairman of Cymdeithas’ Cardiff branch said.
“Cardiff council is boasting about this development so they must accept responsibility for failing to ensure that the Welsh language is given its rightful place in our capital city.
“The authority’s attitudes and planning policies don’t reflect the needs of local communities.
“What’s more important to Cardiff council – profit for huge development firms or the interests of people who live here?”
It’s a ‘lack of respect’
Mr Morris said there was a “lack of respect and a lack of opportunity to see the Welsh language in Central Square.
“Cardiff council should be setting an example for the other councils in Wales,” he said.
“We are calling on them today to do that.
“They need to set clear guidelines to developers – the planning committee here has a lot of power.”
BBC Cymru Wales headquarters will be among the offices on the new site once it is complete.
“There is so much development happening in Cardiff we are concerned that the Welsh language is being left behind,” Mr Morris said.
“The Welsh language belongs to everyone. If you live here it belongs to you.
“It does not matter what your background, where you’re from or what your history is.
“The Welsh language is here for you and we would ask Cardiff council to respect that.”
The Welsh Government’s Future Generations bill has 40 “national well-being indicators” that include people using Welsh in everyday life.
“It mentions the well being of people and the Welsh language is part of that,” Mr Morris said.
“Councils need to give proper consideration to the effect of planning decisions and developments on the Welsh language.”
How many protesters showed up?
Mr Morris was pleased with the turnout, which numbered about 20.
“We organised it quite last minute,” he said.
“But there is a lot of strength of feeling here.
“There are a lot of people who have complained about this.”
Cymdeithas had heard “dozens” of gripes about Central Square.
“Thousands of people walk back and forth past this place every day,” Mr Morris said.
Council ‘adheres to planning law’
According to Cardiff Council’s website, it wants to “ensure that our vision of an increasingly bilingual Cardiff is realised.”
“It is undermining Cardiff council’s own vision, of trying to achieve that,” Mr Morris said.
Planning committee chairman, Michael Michael, said Cardiff council “adheres to planning law and planning guidance.”
“We abide by all the relevant acts and give planning permission if a development meets those requirements,” he said.
Cymdeithas’ protest follows their campaign last year to change signs at the city’s railway stations so the Welsh’s official status was “properly respected.”
Central Square developers Rightacres could not be reached for comment.