Last month the people of Wales rejoiced as one bank was forced to rethink its decision to withdraw the Welsh language from their services. National Savings & Investments were put under scrutiny with a judicial review – in Welsh. It is the first time a review of this nature has been heard in the Welsh language.
NS&I are owned by the state and have one and a half million customers in Wales. Their customers, who have a total of over a hundred billion pounds invested in the bank, were shocked when Welsh language provision was removed in 2013, but last month NS&I promised to reinstate it as soon as possible, after the judge’s ruling that they had broken the law.
A Win for the Welsh Commissioner
With obvious satisfaction, the Welsh Commissioner, Meri Huws, stressed, “[It should show that government departments] cannot revoke Welsh language services on a whim”. She continued: “The decision to apply for a judicial review on this issue was not taken lightly, but following complaints from service users this was a step I was determined to take as commissioner. The judgement today is proof that I am able to use my powers to stand up for the Welsh language and its speakers.”
Now the Commissioner and NS&I are in discussion as they work together to reinstate the Welsh language service as soon as possible.
This triumph comes as Welsh language campaigners chained themselves to gates at the government offices in Aberystwyth in peaceful protest against the decline of the Welsh language.
Following on from a similar protest held in Llandudno in February, twelve people were desperate to be heard by the First Minister, who has the power to turn the crisis around. They argue that investment is needed to ensure that Welsh is taught in schools. Six months ago, the results of a census were revealed which prompted the Welsh Language Society to declare that the language was in crisis, but Carwyn Jones is yet to take action.