[lg policy] UK: Shock quote for bilingual sign sparks debate over dual-language policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Apr 30 14:35:17 UTC 2011

Shock quote for bilingual sign sparks debate over dual-language policy
80% cost differential leads to renewed call to reinstate Caithness
opt-out from blanket council directive

By Iain Grant

Published: 29/04/2011

THE price quoted for providing a sign in English and Gaelic for a
Caithness village has reignited the controversy over Highland
Council’s bilingual policy. A central belt firm priced the sign as 80%
more expensive than a replacement in English only. The differential
led to a renewed call to reinstate the Caithness opt-out from the
blanket council directive.

The English-only sign for Milton, near Wick, was priced at £473,
against £849 for the larger bilingual version.
However a replacement was not needed as the original sign – which was
hit by a car – was later found in a field, relatively undamaged. The
design for the dual-sign of Milton and Baile a’Mhuilinn has therefore
been mothballed.

Thurso councillor Donnie Mackay said the council does not have a
mandate for its policy in Caithness. Shocked to learn of the £376
difference in the quote, he said it undermines claims made by Gaelic
promoters that there is little extra cost in erecting bilingual
replacements. “To be honest, we’re not a Gaelic county and we would
rightly face an outcry from local people if they went up here,
especially when money is so tight,” he said.

“If they want them in areas like Skye and Lochalsh and Lochaber and
Sutherland, then fair enough – but leave Caithness alone.” He
predicted a bilingual sign in Caithness would “not last long”. Prior
to the centralisation of the council’s administration, the former
Caithness area committee had an opt-out from the council’s bilingual

Gaelic body Bord na Gaidhlig was surprised by the price difference.
Chief executive John Angus MacKay said: “The question of costs is for
the council’s own tendering process and whether they were getting best
value. It does seem strange the cost of erecting the bilingual sign
was almost four times (£131 compared with £38) as much as the erection
costs of the other signs.

“The question of value is another matter altogether as the bilingual
signs will offer visible evidence of the area’s unique cultural
heritage and have a positive impact on improving the tourism
experience people have when they visit the Highlands.”

A council spokesman yesterday said bilingual signs are part of the
council’s commitment to the Gaelic plan which it has signed up to. He
said the policy only applies when signs need to be replaced through
damage or age.

The spokesman said: “The council is well aware of the sensitivity over
bilingual signage. At Milton, we were pleased to replace the damaged
sign at minimal cost. There are currently no plans to replace any
other sign in Caithness.”

Read more: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/2245469?UserKey=#ixzz1L17ALDFW

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