Less than twelve hours after clokading Council Education officers in a car park outside a threatened village school (Mynydd Cerrig), Cymdeithas yr Iaith have taken further action against another controversial decsion by Carmarthenshire County Council. Two Cymdeithas members have been arrested early this morning for demolishing the giant English-only sign denoting the site in Carmarthen of the new Debenhams Superstore and Shopping Mall which was controversially given planning permission by the County Council.
Cymdeithas Chair in Carmarthenshire, Sioned Elin, explained:"Carmarthenshire County Council seems to have a bureaucratic obsession to centralise everything into giant developments and ride roughshod over local opinion and needs. In the same way that they are intent on closing dozens of our Welsh-medium Village Schools in order to create a few centralised Area Schools, so also they appear to be in the pockets of large corporations like Debenhams and Tesco at the expense of local businesses and in conflict once again with majority local opinion.""Cymdeithas yr Iaith insists that these large retail companies - who have manipulated our council so easily - must now pay the full price of integration into the local community. They must respect our language, use local produce and services where possible and offer skilled employment opportunites locally to our people. We will not allow them to exploit us on the cheap.""Debenhams has made a very bad start and has shown it's contempt for the local community by erecting a massive English-only sign to announce their arrival and the English name (St Catherine's Walk) for the development. They obviously think the local community will be as compliant as was the Council. Through demolishing this sign, Cymdeithas calls on Debenhams to think again."The Society, which has also called on local busineses in Carmarthen to make full use of the language, has published a 7-point "Saith dros yr Iaith" charter of demands for Debenhams and Tesco:1) Bilingual permanent signs2) Promotional signs and leaflets inside to be bilingual3) Train staff to conduct business in Welsh4) Bilingual labels for their own-brand products5) Tannoy announcements to be bilingual6) Company Website to be bilingual7) Use local products and services wherever possible.This action has been taken the day before Cymdeithas's National Festival for a New Language Act at Aberystwyth tomorrow. Such a New Act should force large companies in the private sector to end the discrimination against Welsh speakers.