Wales politics

Historical place names bill is rejected by AMs

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Media caption'There is no protection for our historic place names'

A bid in the assembly to protect historical place names in planning law has failed after AMs voted against it.

Welsh ministers had refused to support Plaid Cymru AM Dai Lloyd's attempt to introduce a bill that would protect the names of houses and farms, fields, natural features and landscapes.

Mr Lloyd said there had been strong support for his proposed bill from external organisations.

But the Welsh Government's Ken Skates said the proposals were not feasible.

All the opposition groups - Plaid Cymru, UKIP and the Conservatives - supported the proposal, but with Labour opposed AMs voted 28 against to 25 for.

Mr Lloyd's bill would have deployed a range of measures to protect names, including establishing a system where people who want to change a historic name must seek consent to do so, and a general prohibition on changing a historical place name.

The proposal had followed a series of rows over changes to names over the years, including a dispute where the Grade I-listed Plas Glynllifon near Caernarfon was referred to as Wynnborn mansion in online marketing material.

Mr Lloyd had won an assembly ballot to introduce the law earlier this year.

Image caption A Ceredigion farm promotes its accommodation under a different name

During a debate on the bill Mr Skates, Welsh Government culture secretary, told AMs: "I do not see how any system of general consent or control for changes can be feasible or affordable."

He explained that, from May, Wales will have the only "statutory list of historic place names" and that in guidance set to be issued, public bodies will be directed to take account of the list when considering the name of streets, properties and other places.

"I struggle to see what the legislation that the member proposes will achieve beyond the actions that we are already taking," he said.

"Although I cannot support this motion I believe the ground breaking measures that we are about to introduce are vital steps in appreciating and valuing this precious inheritance", he said, adding this was where "our energies and our resources should be directed".

'No statutory protection'

Mr Skates's intervention prompted an angry response from Mr Lloyd, who told the minister that it was Plaid Cymru amendments to a previous assembly law that had "got you to the position of having the register that you have today".

"The fact is there is no statutory protection for our historic place names, be they of any language - English, Anglo Saxon, Viking, Latin, Old Welsh, New Welsh, Norse, Flemish, the rich smorgasbord of our history is going down the tube."

He added: "We're talking history of nation here. Pride in the history of that nation, pride that deserves to be enshrined in law."

Former Plaid Cymru leader and independent AM Dafydd Elis-Thomas voted with Labour and against the bill in Wednesday's vote.

Three opposition assembly members - the suspended Plaid Cymru AM Neil McEvoy, independent AM Nathan Gill and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood - did not take part in the vote.

Two government AMs - First Minister Carwyn Jones and Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths - were also not present.

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