Call to discipline councillor over Welsh language comments
A petition has been signed by 950 people who want a Powys county councillor disciplined for negative comments she made about the Welsh language.
Conservative councillor Amanda Jenner made the comments in an article published on the Conservative.Home website.
The offending paragraph in the article which was on 'policy devolution' said: “I don’t want to see the Welsh language forced upon every nook and cranny of Wales, including upon those communities whose traditions and cultures may not have the Welsh Language embedded in them.”
She was criticised at a full council meeting on July 30 by Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Elwyn Vaughan and responded by saying that she was not referring to “Powys in my article”.
The petition, which was set up by Elfed Jones, said: “We are calling on Powys County Council to discipline the councillor that made derogatory comments towards the Welsh language, and to provide every councillor with language awareness training.
“A Powys county councillor insulted the Welsh language and described efforts to teach the Welsh language as 'Forcing the Language'.
“The Welsh Language is relevant to everyone in Wales, especially in Powys.
“For centuries the actions of people like this councillor has done nothing but split communities and attack the language. Enough is enough."
A spokesman for Powys County Council said that complaints about councillors are considered by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
Councillor Jenner, who stood in December’s general election in Ceredigion and is tipped to stand there again in next year’s Welsh Parliament election, said she believed the paragraph has been taken out of context.
“The words are taken from article I wrote regarding policy I would like to see in the future in Wales," she said.
“As explained in my article, I would like to see communities and local areas empowered and to lead on decision making for more things impacting their area, including growing the Welsh language.
“It is clear that I am talking about policy in the future. ”
She added that it was disappointing to see a Plaid Cymru councillor “seeking to create division”.
Councillor Jenner was asked to clarify the comments she made, and answer, if not Powys where has the Welsh language had been forced on people?
She replied that her comments were “not about the past”.
Tory leader defends comments
Meanwhile, Conservative group leader in Powys, Councillor Aled Davies, has defended Councillor Jenner's comments.
He also believes that some “Mwynder Maldwyn” needs to be injected into the political discourse on the subject.
Councillor Davies was asked if he would discipline Councillor Jenner by removing the Conservative whip or ask her to apologise?
He said he believes the whole article needs to be read to understand the context of her words.
Councillor Davies Davies, said: “Maybe you should not be partial when taking quotes from Amanda’s article.
“When addressing localism Amanda writes: ‘I want Welsh language and Welsh culture to be naturally embraced and to grow organically. I don’t want to see the Welsh language forced upon every nook and cranny of Wales, including upon those communities whose traditions and cultures may not have the Welsh Language embedded in them'.
“Clearly Amanda is very supportive of our language, a learner herself, she wants Cymraeg (Welsh) to be the language of our communities by building consensus on how we can strengthen and increase its use day by day. ”
“Localism is about communities’ ownership of decisions making and their willingness to take actions.
“Without this we will struggle to achieve the target of one million Welsh speakers.
“It is so important that everyone in Wales has the opportunity to learn and to use our language all day every day, Welsh Government and local authorities have a role to play but most important of all, our communities,must also do so much more.”
Councillor Davies attacked the criticism that Councillor Jenner has received from Plaid Cymru group leader Councillor Elwyn Vaughan.
He also pointed out that Councillor Jenner has been abused by internet trolls on social media.
Councillor Davies added “Politics does not have to be this way, we should be free to discuss our ideas and make reasoned argument without vile abuse.
“Amanda is bursting with ideas for the future, we may not always agree but ychydig bach mwy o fwynder Maldwyn, os gwelwch yn dda (A bit more Montgomeryshire mildness/pleasantness please.)”
Councillor Vaughan responded: “Recently we’ve had the Shrewsbury MP attacking Wales and wanting to be rid our Senedd,
“We now have had a county councillor wanting to stop forcing Welsh in parts of Wales and undermine the language.
“It’s the power of the strong to bash the weak, the language of the oppressor over the oppressed, the language of intolerance, and that’s why we have to call it out and condemn it.”